The Canal Winchester Times

Sold-out Harlem Wizards game was a slam-dunk

Enlarge Image Buy This Photo
The Harlem Wizards' "Swoop" gives a head fake to Winchester Trail Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Laura Shickey during a fundraiser at Canal Winchester High School Thursday, April 10. The basketball game was organized by the Canal Winchester Rotary Club and brought in about $7,500 for club programs supporting education and students.

The Harlem Wizards' basketball game against a team of local volunteers was a slam-dunk for the community as far as Canal Winchester Rotary Club member Brent Foley is concerned.

"While the Wizards won the game -- and I can't remember by how much -- of course, it was the community that was the big winner," he said late last week.

Foley organized the April 10 event at the Canal Winchester High School gym.

The Harlem Wizards team put on a show for a sold-out crowd, all for the sake of improving educational opportunities and the lives of students. The net result of their efforts was about $7,500, Foley said.

The community team, coached by Canal Winchester schools Superintendent Jim Sotlar, included district staff members, school board members and local officials.

Money raised by the game goes to annual programs sponsored by the club, Foley said, including providing every Canal Winchester third-grader with a dictionary, sponsoring a high school junior each year for the Rotary Youth Leadership Program, and helping support Canal Winchester Human Services' Feed our Future program, which provides meals to students in need.

"We hope through events like these, we may raise enough to establish a college scholarship fund as well," he said.

Planning for the game meant "all hands on deck," Foley said.

The game was a team effort that reached beyond just the borders of Canal Winchester, according to Foley.

"Club president Catherine Roebuck, treasurer Theresa Reade and member John Kershner were the team leads; however, several of our club members helped in planning and volunteering at the event," he said.

Lead sponsor Cindi Lynch really "put her money where her mouth was," he added, noting that the $2,400 bed tax grant received from Canal Winchester provided the upfront seed money to get the ball bouncing.

"That seed money has provided a great return on investment for the community," Foley said.

Besides the charity basketball game itself, some of the Harlem Wizards attended assemblies at the schools, where they had a chance to meet students.

"Those guys are not just great entertainers, but great people who really care about kids," Foley said.

The Rotary Club is asking community members to Instagram or Tweet photos from the event with the hashtags #slamtastic #CanalWinchesterRotaryClub and #ServiceAboveSelf.