The 12th Annual Diane Brumwell Memorial “Hoops for Hope” has come and gone but the donations continue to come in! We have now surpassed the $45,000 mark for donations this year which beats our old record of $43,000 which we accomplished in 2015. The current mark for this year’s tournament puts the lifetime amount for funds raised at $330,000 which is quite remarkable considering we only raised $4,300 our first year and didn’t crack the $20,000 mark until our 4th Tournament.
But there’s a reason the tournament has been such a success and that lies in the individuals who have been with us throughout the years, the ones who take it upon themselves to not only come to compete each year on the court but do the work it takes to raise funds before they even show up. The money raised for cancer research has always been the main reason for this tournament and 7 years ago we put an even greater emphasis on that.
We have always awarded what we call, The Diane Brumwell Memorial “HOPE” Award to the team which raised the most money for cancer research but in 2010 we wanted to reward the individuals who were doing the vast majority of the fund raising for their teams and hopefully spark a little more competition amongst the individuals each year. That year we started our All-Tournament Team which consists of the five players who raise the most money for the tournament, and the cool thing was that people really started getting after donations! They took it as a personal pride to receive an award not for their game play (we’re all getting older) but for doing something that truly mattered which was raising funds for cancer research.
The first year of the All-Tournament team we had five members all of which raised about $500 and below except for our MVP who utilized a match program set up by his company and used payroll withdrawal to donate each month some of his own money. Corey Hanson was that year’s MVP and has remained at the top spot pretty much every year since with the largest amount he’s brought in being right around the $3,500 mark.
The competition went back and forth for quite a few years with Corey or Kyle Simonson always taking home the MVP but another constant on the team was Liz Jagol who generally always fell into the 3rd spot. Liz also motivated her team into getting after donations as well which generally put them in the 2nd spot for the “HOPE” Award every year!
Last year the competition was so close between Corey and Kyle and Liz was not too far away either and to show the true meaning of the tournament, Corey and Kyle decided that Liz truly deserved the MVP and we awarded it to her for 2016…but that wasn’t good enough for Liz, as she is a great competitor both on and off the court and like us, truly hates cancer.
With that build up I take you to the 2017 Hoops for Hope tournament.
Having used a FirstGiving site three years ago to make it easier for people to get donations from family/friends from further away, we were very happy to see The V Foundation start up their own platform so that we weren’t paying fees on each transaction. This method worked well for some in 2016 and even more took advantage of it this year, essentially tripling the amount of donations received through the platform for our tournament in one year. It also gave us an idea as to how the competition was going for funds raised as well as a way to help people tell their story online as to why Hoops for Hope and The V Foundation were important to them.
Leading up to the competition one of our friends had been trying to put something together because he was celebrating 15 years since he was first diagnosed with cancer and wanted this to be a banner year for him. He had made the All-Tournament Team for his 10-year anniversary and was going to give it all he had to make it again.
What a lot of people don’t really understand, though, is just how difficult telling your story of survival can be. Our friend was truly struggling with the fact that he had survived while so many others had not and every time he tried to put himself out there to tell his story, he would hesitate and then not do it. After some coaxing from my brother and I, and quite a few late-night phone calls between my brother and our friend, we were able to get him to finally post his story. We had explained to him that we get that you wonder why you would be given this second chance instead of someone else, but that because we had a friend like him in our life…we knew this disease could be beat. We knew a living, breathing example and one who has truly lived a very full life with the additional time he has been given. We told him that maybe he lived so that when we lost our mother to cancer, we didn’t give up. That together maybe we could make a difference for others, and maybe we could give others an opportunity to survive as well.
It took our friend two days to eclipse the $1,000 mark online after posting his story. There was never a doubt in my mind but I was so glad that everything we were telling him about how many people truly valued him was validated.
We spent quite a bit of time trying to get others motivated to hit the streets and get donations as well. Some new, some old participants but whoever it was we tried to instill in them all that the point of this tournament is to raise funds for cancer research. That it may seem like a difficult task to ask people for money, but once you get out there you will be surprised by the unbelievable generosity of individuals and businesses.
The day of the tournament arrived and although we had gotten together with a few of the teams the night before as they arrived into town, Saturday morning we got to see so many familiar faces and meet some brand-new people as well. It’s always such a fun atmosphere but this year we also had more volunteers than ever before helping out with concessions, running the clock for games, take book and so many other things that afforded us a little more time with the teams and their families to share stories and get to know each other a bit more.
A couple of weeks before the tournament we got word from one of our friends, that we play men’s league basketball with, that he may have an NBA player joining his team this year, which of course we thought was amazing but certainly had our doubts. He said that it was Greg Stiemsma who had played for Wisconsin in college and then went on to play for the Timberwolves, Boston and Portland among other teams, but I remembered him right away from the Wolves. I always liked the way he played with a lot of heart for the team and was sad when we didn’t re-sign him, but was looking forward to an opportunity to get to meet him! As it turned out, Greg’s wife had played at Hamline University with our friend Bill’s daughter Christina, and not only were we getting Greg but also his wife to come play! Greg recently lost his father to cancer unfortunately, so I think that the purpose of our tournament as well as the connection to Bill and his family helped to make their decision to come join us a bit easier.
My first interaction with Greg and his wife was while I was hauling in a few last-minute items and they were roaming around taking their springer spaniel for a walk, I obviously knew who he was (a 6’11” guy in a town of Frenchman tends to stand out) but was immediately taken back with how friendly he and his wife were. I’m also a springer spaniel guy, having one myself, so that put them in my good graces right away too! But the minute Greg and his wife showed up they were busy taking photos with kids and adults alike, taking time to talk with anyone and everyone and signing autographs even including a light up Timberwolves sign we had on our silent auction!
Greg’s team kicked off the tournament against a really good team from our area, Razor Sharp led by Rich Hanks, with some of the purest shooters up here and were actually even able to take down the Band of Brothers team led by Bill and Greg! That’s just how good the competition is on the court as well!
The tournament kicked off at 9am Saturday morning with the first two rounds of the men’s and women’s tournament ending around 9pm. A lot of great basketball was played, a few sparks flew out on the court but the greatest thing about this tournament is that despite the high level of competition people are generally fantastic about leaving everything on the court and are celebrating the first day together later that night at our annual Hoops for Hope Social. It’s a way to blow off some steam and also just to come together to celebrate all the hard work put in by all of our Hoops for Hope family to raise as much money as possible in the fight against cancer! We were very excited to see that Greg and pretty much his whole team joined us as well, despite the fact that I didn’t get the chance to dance while on his shoulders…
Sunday’s games began at 10am with the championship and consolation rounds of both the men’s and women’s tournaments. As the games progressed the competition definitely heated up even more as the trophies were within reach, but it was also the day we figured out how much each individual and team had raised (to that point) and were ready to name the All-Tournament Team and “HOPE” Award winners.
The Band of Brother’s team faced off against Premier Branding for the Consolation Championship but were without Mr. Stiemsma as he had left early as he had to make the long drive home yet, but he didn’t leave without signing more autograph’s and taking some time to give some pointers to his replacement, the son of another one of the Band of Brother’s crew! It was a very exciting game with two teams that really worked hard on the court but in the end the hot shooting of team captain Bill and the size of Band of Brother’s proved too much for Premier Branding. Both teams fought hard and were true sportsman throughout the whole match!
The Women’s Championship game had a rematch from last year’s contest with Jagol Honey’s facing Northland. Both teams featured former college players from around our area and was quite the match with the Honey’s leading most of the way but never by more than just a few points. Once again, the taller team proved to be a little too much to overcome and Jagol Honey’s walked away with the Women’s Championship in the end.
Finally, we were just down to the Men’s Championship game which like the Women’s Championship, was a rematch from the previous year. The defending champion, Red Shirts were facing off once again against 4-time Hoops for Hope winners, The Wilcox Clan. The previous year the Wilcox Clan had played in one of the most physical games in the history of the tournament the game right before the championship, which obviously took quite a bit out of them as the Red Shirts had jumped to a 30-point half time lead which the Wilcox Clan just wasn’t able to overcome. But this was a different year and both teams came into the game with the attitude that they were walking away the winners.
Unlike the previous year, the Wilcox Clan did not look warn down to start the game, it was a great back and forth between the two teams with Red Shirts leading by half behind some great play from team captain Tony Nordby, but Chris Anderson of the Wilcox Clan was doing his best to match the performance and was playing a heck of a game!
The Red Shirts were able to get a few more stops in the second half than the Wilcox Clan and as the time ticked away Red Shirts had defeated Wilcox Clan for the second straight year.
These guys are such unbelievable competitors that they make the games so much fun to watch and when it’s all over they’re able to take a breath and then join together for our customary group photo of both teams after the game. It’s important to us that no matter what happens on the court, we don’t forget why we come together each April, through the years most teams and participants have truly embodied that spirit.
So, we had our game play champions but the most important awards were still to be named. As teams finish throughout the day we’re not always able to get pictures of the All-Tournament Team unfortunately but these guys and gals did an amazing job and I can’t believe I get to call them friends! So, without further ado, this year’s All-Tournament Team, with total amount raised:
Christopher Ingraham - $1,115
Adam Kusler - $2, 080
David Wilcox - $2,160
Corey Hanson - $2,540 (received another $60 after the event putting him now at $2,600)
Liz Jagol - $2,570 (MVP)
Corey claims that Liz now has to raise at least $31 more or give him the Team Autographed Kansas Ball she won on the auction…but he also sent me this picture:
Honorable mentions for this year’s tournament include: Heidi Fiechtner - $907, Rachel Johnson - $710, and Kyle Simonson and Shannon Gunderson who on top of bringing in lots of cash donations both also brought close to, or over $1,000 worth of items for our silent auction!
The Diane Brumwell Memorial “HOPE” Award goes to the 12th Annual Tornado Drill team which raised over $10,000 this year. The Jagol Honey’s finished 2nd once again with about $5,000 in donations!
As previously mentioned there are still donations coming in every day and if you would still like to donate please feel free to click on the “DONATE” Button on our website’s Home Page or send a check made out to “Hoops for Hope” to:
Hoops for Hope
911 Stevens Ave. NE
Red Lake Falls, MN 56750
Once again, we wouldn’t be able to do this tournament without the amazing people who motivate us each year and come out and help out in so many ways. The Robert Matzke Gymnasium has been the home to Hoops for Hope for these past 12 years all thanks to ISD #630 and their amazing staff! We’d also like to thank all of the wonderful kids who came out and helped this year’s tournament run so smoothly, and their parents for letting them spend their weekend with us, we can’t thank you enough! A special shout out to 8th Grader, Claira Girdler who spent the entire weekend selling concessions for us! She and her crew were able to raise just about $2,000 throughout the weekend!
To everyone who donated cash, items, time, materials or even told us some stories or offered a few kind words, thank you so much. Each year we are amazed at the generosity of our community and those communities that send participants to Hoops for Hope. We’ve always told people that if you want to see what makes small towns like Red Lake Falls so great, come out to Hoops for Hope and you’ll see some of the greatest sense of community ever, so thank you all for making that statement true!
Ryan and I would especially like to thank all of our local businesses who put up with he and I in there multiple times a day hounding people for donations. We know your time is valuable so we appreciate you giving some of it to us, even if we did interrupt a board meeting or two…we appreciate you giving so freely to our quest for a cure. You make us proud members of Red Lake Falls every single day.
To the teams, we thank you for participating in this year’s Hoops for Hope and for helping us to make this year the best one yet. There was definitely some ups and downs in the gameplay as there always is, but once again we made it through without any major injuries or too many hurt feelings and in 12 years, that’s pretty miraculous.
We’d also like to once again thank Mr. and Mrs. Stiemsma for coming out and definitely bringing the crowd with you! It meant a lot to have a former NBA player come and play, but it meant even more to us that he was playing for something. Cancer effects everyone and the Stiemsma’s came out to help us prove that everyone wants to do something about it. Also, they’re definitely moving to Red Lake Falls, if I have anything to say about it…better wait a couple of days though, the Ingraham’s almost got scared off last time we had snow in April…or May.
Together we’ve raised over $330,000 for cancer research, which is a lot, but until we find a cure we promise to keep going, and we hope you’ll stay with us. A couple people can do a lot, but what Hoops for Hope proves is that with team work we can make a true impact in the fight. With this Hoops for Hope Family we’ve developed, anything is possible, especially a cure for cancer. Thank you all so much! Keep watching the Facebook Group site for updated totals!!!