Hoops for Hope raises money for childhood cancer

At first glance, basketball, one of the most beloved sports worldwide, and cancer, a deathly disease, do not seem to mix. For years, however, the varsity basketball teams have defied this initial impression by using their basketball skills to aid in the fight against childhood cancer through their annual Hoops for Hope event.

During the 2011-2012 basketball season, the varsity boy’s basketball team persistently searched for a way in which they could give back to the community. In the midst of the team’s attempts to engage in some sort of community service, assistant coach Wright Ward received a diagnosis of cancer. Rather than dwell on the disheartening news of Ward’s diagnosis, the team decided to direct their energy and service efforts towards helping their coach. To do this, the team and the coaching staff created the Hoops for Hope event, an annual fundraiser that raises awareness and donations for CURE Childhood Cancer, a charity that Ward personally chose.

CURE Childhood Cancer serves as a non-profit cancer research foundation that is based out of nearby Emory University. In 1975, CURE emerged as one of the few non-profits dedicated primarily to curing childhood cancer. At the time, the survival rate for children with cancer was a mere 10 percent. With much research, scientific breakthroughs, and diligent work, CURE has proudly aided in increasing the survival rate to 80 percent. Despite their accomplishments, CURE still works to turn that statistic to 100 percent and provide an cure for children with cancer. With more hard work and passion, CURE believes that this goal is achievable within a lifetime.

Since the 2011-2012 season, the Westminster boys and girls basketball teams have dedicated one annual game to the Hoops for Hope event. At the game, players raise donations by electing sponsors, typically friends and family, who donate a certain amount per each point scored by their player. For example, a sponsor may pledge to donate $1 for each point their player scores. In addition, sponsors can donate flat amounts, and a donation box remains available throughout the game.

The first Hoops for Hope event raised roughly $8,000 dollars in donations, and subsequent events have matched or exceeded this donation value consistently.

This year, Westminster held the event on Feb. 2, during the highly anticipated game against Blessed Trinity. Westminster won the game handily with a score of 69-47. While the official donation total is unavailable, the combination of the high point total and large crowd turnout at the game gives confidence that this year’s event was just as, or more, successful than events in years past.

“It’s such as blessing to understand that we can play this game, and we can use this blessing to help other kids who do not have this privilege,” said Will Benson. “Since freshman year, I’ve tried to raise as much money as I can for these kids.”

For five years now, the boy’s and girl’s varsity basketball teams have used their skills in the game they love for true philanthropy. Since the event’s commencement, Hoops for Hope has raised tens of thousands of dollars for CURE Childhood Cancer. Hopefully, the two teams’ hard work and dedication on the court can translate into something bigger than basketball- a cure, once and for all, for childhood cancer.