Thirty-eight teams, nearly 200 people, and six basketball courts all in one gym on one day might seem like a new NBA playoff schedule gone awry, but on Saturday, the Hoops for Hearts 3-on-3 basketball tournament may have given many a new way to look at philanthropy.
A collaborative effort between new fraternity Zeta Beta Tau and the established Alpha Epsilon Pi, Hoops for Hearts sought to raise money and donate it to Save a Child's Heart, a charity based in Israel that gives children from all over the world free treatment for various life-threatening heart conditions.
Each child needs around $10,000 to be saved, an astronomical sum for many who live in third-world countries or impoverished areas. The hope for Hoops for Hearts was to reach that number.
Local businesses Zetti's and University Village at Sweethome, along with UB's Center for Student Leadership and Community Engagement, sponsored the event by donating money and free food to sell as concessions.
"They've been extremely good to us," said David Siegel, a sophomore undecided major and vice president of AEPi. "We've been planning this since before break, and having their support is such a great thing."
Big supporters were not the only way money was raised. Tournament participants provided a $10 donation to the cause, and various gift cards to Target and local restaurants were raffled off for $1 tickets. By the second round of the tournament, nearly $5,000 had been raised.
"The beautiful thing is that as our international network of students and young professionals grow," said Deborah Serkin, Young Leadership Director for Save a Child's Heart. "Their collaborative efforts make a huge impact."
Although organized by ZBT and AEPi, the event united many fraternities and sororities under one roof. Many teams were comprised of fraternities and sororities, and many others came out just to watch, support the cause, and cheer for their friends and brothers and sisters.
The teams had their own unique styles, each giving itself a special name. Names like the Monstars, Soup De Jour, and Green Eggs and Ham were among the more creative. During the first couple of rounds, each game lasted until either one team scored 11 points, or until 15 minutes was up. Later on, games went up to 15. The teams kept score by the honor system, and, for the most part, good sportsmanship prevailed.
The winner of the tournament was Guard Up, which consisted of Nick Harrison, Christoff Forth, and Blaine Reecher.
All of the teams, while competing for a good cause, were also competing for prizes. The winner would take home three $50 gift cards, and second place would take home three $25 dollar gift cards.
Some, however, were not completely satisfied.
"It takes $10,000 to save a child's heart, and we've only raised $5,000 here today," said Justin Neuwirt, vice president of ZBT and organizer of the event. "That's a half-hearted effort."
Brett Berman, president of AEPi, shared Neuwirt's concern but added that it will be a full-year campaign and that Hoops for Hearts may be only one of multiple events to reach the ultimate goal – to save a child's heart.