Hoops for Hope raises money for childhood cancer

Basketball and cancer awareness—though many would not have thought to put the two together, the Westminster Varsity basketball teams and cheerleaders came up with a resourceful idea to give back.

“Hoops for Hope started last year out of the basketball program’s desire to make contributions to the community,” says senior John Brewer, a member of the Varsity Boys’ team. “Eventually, after having one of our own, Coach Wright Ward, diagnosed with cancer, we decided that cancer research was where we wanted to target our efforts.”

Coach Wright Ward, the assistant Boys’ coach, is a very familiar face on Westminster campus. Whether assisting at the receptionist desk or running basketball drills after school, Ward always contributes a smiling face and helpful disposition. After the Basketball teams decided to sponsor Hoops for Hope in honor of Ward, he chose CURE Childhood cancer as the recipient of the donations raised.

“Head Coach Tray Malloy and the basketball teams were anxious to ‘give back’ and become involved in a signature philanthropic event,” says Janet Kresser, the head organizer for the event last year. “Hoops for Hope turned out to be the perfect avenue. It honors Coach Wright Ward who has been involved with Westminster basketball for many years, and has battled cancer himself.  He chose CURE as the recipient because it is meaningful not only to him, but to so many Westminster families who have been touched by cancer as well.”

CURE is a non-profit cancer research foundation based in Atlanta. Established in 1975, it began with the mission to improve the care and quality of children affected by cancer, as well as placing focus on cancer research. The organization works with Emory University as well as the National Cancer Institute, and made countless contributions to the area of childhood cancer research.

Last year’s event was very successful, as it coincided with the Elementary School Spirit Night, as well as Senior Recognition Night. This resulted in involvement and support from the entire school. A total of 8000 dollars were given to CURE, which was impressively the largest donation given to a single charity that Westminster has ever given. Though this year’s donations have not yet been totaled, as donations are coming in, the final tally is expected to reach or exceed last year’s 8000.

This year’s Hoops for Hope occurred on Jan. 12th at Westminster, coinciding with the Varsity Boys’ and Girls’ games against Green Forest, as well as Elementary School Spirit Night. Before, awareness about the event had been spread with the help of the basketball teams and cheerleaders. Donations were encouraged through pledges, by pledging a certain amount per point scored by the boys’ and girls’ teams. In addition, fixed donations were welcome, and a donation box was available during the night as well. Donations were also accepted after the event. The event was very successful, with a good turnout in regards to crowd involvement and participation.

“Personally, I thought Hoops for Hope went well,” says junior Varisty Basketball cheerleader Charlotte Farley. “I think it was a great idea to raise money, and I think it’d be a cool tradition for future years.”

The event integrated fun into cancer awareness, and ended up affecting the entire Westminster community.

“Cancer is something that touches all of us in some way,” says Brewer. “Coach Ward’s resilience and positive attitude are a true inspiration to this school and this project is the least we can to honor him and those fighting cancer everywhere. I am proud to be a part of this initiative because it shows that the Westminster Basketball Program is committed to something even more important than basketball.”

All in all, the students and staff involved with the organization of the event effectively raised awareness, and were integral for its success. Look out for the final tally in total donations, as well as information about next year’s Hoops for Hope!