Benet Academy and Naperville North’s varsity basketball teams tipped off for the first day of the week long “Hoops for Healing” tournament.
Doug Smith started the event in 2001 with Woodstock High School as a fundraiser for cancer research after undergoing treatment for stage four colon cancer himself. In 2005, he moved to Naperville and partnered with coaches from Naperville North and Oswego High Schools to renew the tournament.
“They send the right message to the players when they play in this tournament,” said Smith. “Obviously they’re coaching them to win a game but they remind them what this tournament is about and that’s really important. So a lot of kudos go out to all the coaches involved in this tournament.”
“I think it’s just absolutely fantastic what Doug’s brought here and our administration has really taken off with it,” said Naperville North High School’s Men’s Basketball coach Jeff Powers. “Our kids believe that they’re doing some more than basketball and what a great time to be doing it, Thanksgiving, when we all have a lot to be thankful for.”
With its ticket, t-shirt, and wristband sales, Hoops for Healing has raised more than $125,000 since its inception. The money goes towards Camp Hope, a program with Edward Hospital’s Cancer Center, offered to kids five to twelve years-old whose parents or grandparents are undergoing cancer treatment.
“We’re hoping that this helps the children just know that they’re not alone and that there’s people that they can go to to get the help that they need,” said Linda Conlin, Psychosocial Coordinator at Edward Hospital.
For Oswego resident Crystal Robinson, the program holds a special place in her heart, as her two sons attended Camp Hope shortly before their father passed away from stomach cancer in 2008.
“We heard about Camp Hope and the kids were invited to attend and the opportunity for them to do the normal things that kids do during the summer that you take for granted until cancer becomes a part of your life,” said Robinson.
While two dozens teams were sweating it out and constantly looking to go hoop for hoop with their opponents, at the end of the day, the score is the least important part of the week-long tournament.
“All the kids play hard and when this tournament’s over, every kid’s a winner because when they walk away, they’ve raised a ton of money for this Camp Hope,” said Smith.
For more information on the tournament or Camp Hope, visit www.hoopsforhealing.org.
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