The sidelines of 's basketball court last Sunday were lined with children and wives cheering on their dads and husbands, quickly turning what was a light-hearted fundraiser into a high-stakes, 3-on-3 basketball tournament.
“This is bragging rights for the younger guys out there,” said Arthur Huntington, one of the main organizers for the event. “They actually have something to prove here.”
Basketball teams from all over Long Island came out to the school to compete in the 14th Annual Community Chest Basketball Tournament. Teams were split up into three groups: adults over 40, adults under 40 and a group for high school teams. Players came out to compete for trophies, “street-cred” and, most importantly, charity in the Five Towns community.
The tournament was dedicated to the memory of Adam Barsel, a Hewlett High School senior that died in a car accident over 10 years ago, and sponsored by the Lawrence Athletic Department.
Individual players paid an entry fee of $62.50 to compete in the event and team rates were $250, all of which went directly back to the community.
Huntington and the rest of the — more mature athletes — at the event play every week at North ’s basketball courts in the warm season, and in the winter they rent out the indoor gymnasium at .
“You're nothing if you can’t throw it up a little out here,” Huntington said. “We’ve been doing this for 30 years; cursing with each other every weekend.”
Steven Hernandez, member of the “adults over 40” bracket winners, Team Glenn, has been playing with the same group of guys since he graduated from high school in Far Rockaway back in 1990.
“We’ve been playing every morning from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.,” Hernandez said. “We used to play ‘til 11, but the guys got a little older.”
It was here where Hernandez and the rest of the guys first heard about the annual community chest tournament from Huntington.
They have all showed up every year ever since to help give back to the community.
Robert Block, executive director of the , and several other members of the board were actively involved in the event, making sure everything was running according to plan and everyone was enjoying the afternoon.
In previous years, the tournament has brought in around $20,000, most of which came from private donors and support from a long list of sponsors such as the Lawrence Athletic Department, the , Home Appliance of Oceanside and many more.
“This is one of our annual events that has grown in popularity over the years,” Block said. “I believe that it could be approaching $25,000, making this one of our better years.”
Some of the sponsors, such as the Rosky Family, Michael's Jewelry Design and helped donate prizes to the tournament for a raffle.
Michelle Kaufman from the Red Cross, also an affiliate to the Community Chest, was set up in the hallway near the entrance to the gymnasium handing out fliers looking for volunteer work in the Long Island area and informing the community about some of their work.
“We are looking for people who are interested in volunteering and we get them information,” Kaufman said.
Coffee was catered by the in Lawrence, donated breakfast pastries and of Hewlett donated several boxes of pizza for the event.
“Our goal is to raise funds that are used for local, charitable and service agencies in the Five Towns community,” Block explained. “The community is the real winner here.”
In addition to the basketball tournament, the Community Chest also holds an annual fair in Cedarhurst Park in the fall, where the members of the community can donate and enjoy rides, games and all of the traditional fair entertainment.
“It’s an opportunity for the entire community to get together in a fun family setting and raise money for the chest,” Block said.
The organization's concert series brought out last year and in the past it has had dances, comedy events and golf tournaments, something Block said he expects to be “resurrected” once again this fall.
“I am sure that is going to happen with the best efforts of our strong individual volunteers,” he said.