Organizer Jason Brumwell tells the story of the event. In its 13th year, Hoops for Hope hopes to expand on its 48,000 dollars raised for cancer research in 2017.
Since 2006, Jason and Ryan Brumwell have organized the Diane Brumwell Memorial “Hoops for Hope” charity event in Red Lake Falls. The event, featuring a basketball tournament and a silent auction, started 13 years ago when their mother, Diane, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
The Brumwells decided to combine their love of basketball with the desire to help their mother and start the event through Relay for Life.
What started as a family affair, the event raised 4,300 dollars in its inaugural year with Diane watching. Unfortunately, Diane passed away the same summer, but the Brumwells decided to continue hosting Hoops for Hope in an attempt to help others.
Jason Brumwell sees the event as not only a way to help those in the fight, but an opportunity for people of all different backgrounds to come together for one cause.
“You go on Facebook and you can see the matches people get into,” Brumwell said. “But the same people you disagree with are the same people that are on your team for an event raising funds for a common theme. Unfortunately, cancer affects us all and I think everybody understands that.”
In their third year, the Brumwells decided to switch from Relay for Life to the V Foundation, a charity created by former basketball coach Jim Valvano and ESPN. As opposed to the 15 percent of funds that went to cancer research through Relay for Life, every penny raised goes to research with the V Foundation.
Last year, the 12th year of Hoops for Hope, the event raised 48,000 dollars. But Jason recalls a time when raising money was not so easy.
“I remember having hour long conversations with individuals just to try and get 20 dollars out of them,” Brumwell said. “Every year after that, it got a little bit easier. We’d tell them we’d take whatever they’d give us and put it to cancer research. It’s amazing how people come out of the woodwork to bring us money.”
For a team to register, each player on the roster must raise 100 dollars. At the end of the tournament, an all-tournament team is announced comprised of individuals who raised the most. Brumwell said last year, the all-tournament team raised approximately 12,000-15,000 dollars with the top three earning about 10,000 dollars combined. A Hope Award is also handed out to the single team that raised the most.
Along with the tournament, Hoops for Hope features a silent auction. Brumwell says since being a part of the V Foundation, the amount of items donated for the auction increased immensely.
“We send out about 450 letters to various organizations,” Brumwell said. “We tell them about us and what we’re trying to do with the funds. At first we didn’t get much, but once we joined the V Foundation and put that logo on our letters, it helped out. Now we have personal correspondents with universities.”
The Brumwells have attained 123 items between what has been donated and what Jason and Ryan buy themselves. Items this year include an autographed ball by the Kansas Jayhawks, a team-autographed Minnesota Wild jersey and an autographed Mike Eruzione jersey. All items can be seen on the event’s Facebook page.
At times, Jason admits they question whether or not their event plays a role in beating cancer.
“This year was a tough year for our community,” Brumwell said. “We lost a lot of members to cancer. I think back to when we lost our mom and how easy it would’ve been to give up at that point. This year, because of all the loss, we start to question if it really makes a difference. Then the V Foundation sent us a letter explaining the story of someone who had metastatic skin cancer. Once that happens, it’s pretty much over for an individual unfortunately. Thanks to the V foundation, he was able to enter a clinical trial and his life was saved.”
Over the 12 years, Hoops for Hope gathered north of 330,000 dollars. Jason said at the beginning, him and his brother could not have anticipated how much it would grow.
“We went from 4,300 dollars the first year to 48,000 dollars last year,” Brumwell said. “When we started, we just thought it was going to be our little thing. Now we are pretty much the biggest fundraiser in our community.”
Hoops for Hope was also the number one community event fundraiser for the V Foundation last year by 20,000 dollars.
The tournament has expanded to over 20 men’s and women’s teams. This year’s event takes place at Lafayette High School in Red Lake Falls on April 20-22.
Visit the Hoops for Hope Facebook page to make a donation. Contact information for Ryan and Jason Brumwell can also be found for any questions.