CHESHIRE, Conn. – On Saturday, March 14, basketball teams will put the full court press on multiple sclerosis. In the spirit of fun, and fundraising, players will go head-to-head at the second annual Petit Memorial Basketball Tournament, Dunk It!
Last year the tournament raised $10,000 and participants seized the opportunity to be hoop-shooting stars for MS. Tyson Oliver, captain of the team winning the adult division in 2008, said Dunk It! was a lot of fun.
“If it’s a good cause, our team likes to help out,” he said.
Oliver’s team, sponsored by Ferrazzi Limousine, participates in several tournaments around Cheshire. Many of the Ferrazzi teammates have played basketball since high school and jumped at the chance to raise money simply by playing their favorite sport.
Proceeds from Dunk It! benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Connecticut Chapter and the Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund.
Dunk It! was established in 2008 by four Cheshire High School graduates: Megan Alexander, Justin Ivey, Wayne Lawrence and Stephen Selnick.
“Our first tournament was a great success,” said Alexander, a close childhood friend of Hayley Petit. “We brought the community together to enjoy basketball, an activity the girls loved, all while raising money for a cause that was incredibly important to the family.”
Hayley and Michaela Petit joined the fight against multiple sclerosis after their mother, Jennifer, was diagnosed with the disease. Hayley first began Hayley’s Hope as a Walk MS team when she was 9 and raised more than $55,000 over eight years. She planned to attend Dartmouth College in the fall of 2007. Her younger sister, Michaela, planned to establish her own walk team.
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents battle the potentially debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. There is no cure. Symptoms can include, among other things, numbness in the limbs, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness, loss of mobility and, in some more severe cases, total paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted.
Organizers of this year’s event added virtual players to the roster, because not everyone who wants to participate is capable of playing basketball. Virtual players can help the cause from the sidelines by donating to a specific team. After the tournament, there will be a silent auction and prizes for the top teams.
“The response to this event is tremendous,” said Karen E. Butler, vice president of communications with the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter. “It’s great to see so many people come out for a worthy cause and have fun in the process.”
“I’m sure many teams will come out in March, probably even more than last year,” said Oliver.
Dunk It! will be on Saturday, March 14, at Cheshire High School on 525 South Main Street. Co-ed and single-sex teams of five to eight people can register online at www.petitmemorialbball.com, with a fee of $20 per person. Team check-in takes place at 9:30 a.m. and opening ceremonies begin at 10 a.m., in the auditorium of the high school. For more information about the tournament e-mail Megan Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about multiple sclerosis, visit www.ctfightsMS.org.
Katy Nally, a resident of West Hartford, will graduate from the University of Connecticut in May. She is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts degree in journalism and serves as a public relations intern at the National MS Society in Hartford. For more information on internship opportunities with the Connecticut Chapter, please contact Karen E. Butler, Vice President of Communications, at kbutler@ctfightsMS.org.