My favorite day of the year is the last Sunday in June. It is not Christmas. It is not my birthday. It is Hoops for Life, and it has been a part of my life since I was born.
Hoops for Life is a charitable basketball tournament my dad and his close friends started twenty years ago to fight cancer. My dad thought of the idea while he was on a business trip in Texas and rushed home to tell his buddies.
The first year was tough. All of the basketball hoops were handmade out of wood. There were 89 teams and 0 sponsors but lots of determination. The passion was there. All of these men had been adversely affected by cancer. Whether they had lost a relative or battled the ruthless disease themselves, there was a common thread connecting them all.
The first year was successful. $27,000 was raised, and so it began.
One weekend a year the Grant Square parking lot in the center of our town turns into an arena. Athletes from all over the state arrive to compete, and our entire town shows its support. There’s something in the air on the day of Hoops for Life. It may be inspiration. It may be comradery. Whatever it is, I just can’t get enough of it.
I have seen Hoops for Life progress year after year, but there are some things that will never change: the sweaty bodies beating against each other scrambling for the ball, the hot black pavement, the sun beating down uninhibited, the whistles blowing, the music blasting, my dad on the microphone announcing a game time change. They are sounds of comfort and visions of hope.
After twenty years of dedication, it became the largest cancer research fundraiser in the state, and over four million dollars has been raised for the American Cancer Society. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and this past summer was the last Hoops for Life. My dad and his friends were tired and getting old, but their legacy will live on.
I believe that you must be the change you wish to see in the world. My dad had a dream and four million dollars later that dream was very much a reality. He has taught me to make things happen. You cannot just sit back and hope that someone will change things – you must change things. My dad has motivated me to try and be the best person I can be everyday. He has helped me learn to keep life in perspective and to remember what is important. My dad has taught me to believe in myself.