Niles, Brandywine team up for charity basketball game

Published 8:50 am Friday, March 29, 2024

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NILES — Staff and students from Brandywine and Niles High Schools took to the basketball court Tuesday evening for a cause.

The crosstown schools teamed up for its “One Community, One Goal” charity basketball event. The event – created by Niles senior Andrew Cutajar and juniors Sam Rucker and Paxton Daniel for their leadership class’ capstone project – featured four six-minute quarters with different teams participating in each quarter. The event also featured raffle prizes, a silent auction and a half-court challenge.

“Part of the class is learning how to plan for a long-term project,” said Niles teacher Roden. “They had so many opportunities to reach out to the public for support and help. They learned how to collaborate with each other and with other businesses getting the community involved as far as donating gifts and things. This leadership class has taught them a lot.”

All proceeds from the event were donated to the Ferry Street Resource Center, 317 N. 7th St., a nonprofit that assists area residents in securing resources and to provide educational and life-enrichment programs and activities to achieve its goal of bridging existing educational, cultural and societal gaps that exist within the community.

According to FSRC Executive Director Ric Pawloski, approximately $2,000 was raised at the event.

“I want to say thank you to the students and their teacher who put this together,” Pawloski said to the crowd. “It was a pleasure for me to work with them. They did a terrific job. The work that we do at the Ferry Street Resource Center can be difficult and it can be sometimes disappointing, but when somebody calls us and says, ‘hey, we want to put out a fundraiser for your benefit,’ it gives us an amazing amount of encouragement because it lets us know that people believe in what we’re doing. They trust what we’re doing and it really means the world to us.”

Brandywine Student Council Advisor Sara Paul said the three students reached out to Principal Evan Winkler last fall about the charity basketball event.

“It’s student-ran, which is phenomenal,” she said. “It’s great when students take the initiative to go out within the community and see a need and help.We were all-in.”

Niles Mayor Nick Shelton was the honorary captain of the Brandywine staff and Allison Hayes Freeze-Shelton was the honorary captain of the Niles staff. The first quarter saw the Niles staff edge the Brandywine staff 9-7 thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Niles Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Applegate. The second quarter was between Niles staff and Niles students, with the staff taking a 10-2 victory. In the third quarter, the Brandywine students beat the Brandywine staff 9-8 despite the efforts of Niles Mayor Nick Shelton and boys basketball coach Nate Knapp. The event concluded with the Brandywine students besting the Niles students 6-5.

Paul, who also taught in the Niles Community Schools district, believes Tuesday’s collaboration between the two schools showcased the best of what the districts have to offer.

“I just think it’s great when the community can come together,” she said. “‘One community, one goal; we’re all in this together. It was a no-brainer to say ‘let’s do it.’ It was really cool.”

After the success of Tuesday’s event, Roden and Paul said the two schools are looking into making the fundraiser an annual event that alternates locations between the two schools. There is even talk of creating a traveling trophy.

“If that’s the way that we can get kids to understand giving back and helping – they’re so hungry for that,” Paul said. “They want to give back and this is a perfect opportunity. We’re a community of basketball lovers so that definitely is going to be in the pipeline.”