For the fourth year, North Shore High School seniors Jagger Gillman and Ethan Bradford are organizing Hoops For Harrison, a basketball tournament that benefits a cause very close to their hearts. The two cousins started the fundraiser as freshmen in honor of Jagger’s younger brother Harrison Gillman, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, with all proceeds going to the Crohns & Colitis Foundation of America. This year Harrison, who is now a freshman, is getting involved in the event and plans to take it over next year.
“I’m proud they took it on when they were freshmen to help find a cure for Crohn’s and colitis and I’m happy I was their inspiration,” said Harrison.
Harrison, Jagger and Bradford are all passionate about basketball and started the event as a clinic for the older boys to teach basketball skills to younger children while raising money for CCFA. It’s grown every year and as they’ve learned what works and what doesn’t they’ve made changes, the biggest being a switch to a three-on-three basketball tournament last year, instead of the clinic. In years past, Harrison was able to participate and now has more responsibility as he prepares to take over the reins.
“I’m a little bit of a shy person so it is harder to promote since it’s in my name, but I also know it’s for a good cause,” said Harrison, adding that he focuses on the friends he knows it helps as well as himself.
In addition to help from Harrison, the cousins have included Cameron Mikes, a sophomore at Roslyn High School who volunteered last year.
“Last year we had a committee and the person who stood out to us the most was Cameron because he was so involved with the raffles and the silent auctions,” said Jagger.
Instead of having the committee again, they just took Mikes on.
“I helped them get a grasp on what people would like so we could raise more money,” said Mikes, who went around to area businesses asking for gift cards and hand-picked items from Cardboard Memories for the silent auction.
Last year’s tournament raised about $8,000, including the money from the raffles and auctions, up from $4,000 the previous year and $2,000 the first year.
“Now we’re in our fourth year and we know what’s going on, and with the additional help of Cameron and Harrison, it’s easier to do three time slots and it’s a way to increase the money we make for the CCFA,” said Bradford. “We’ve grown exponentially every year.”
Hoops for Harrison will be held on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, at the Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center in East Hills from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m., with two-hour time slots for each of the three different age groups: 1:15 to 3 p.m. for fifth- and sixth-graders, 3 to 5 p.m. for seventh- and eighth-graders and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for ninth– and 10th-graders. Pre-registration is required, with three to five members per team. Early bird registration, from now until Dec. 8, is $125. The cost is $150 from Dec. 9 through Jan. 8, 2017 and late registration, from Jan. 9-13, 2017, is $165. No walk-ins will be accepted on the day of the tournament. Valley Sport and Trophy will be donating all of the winner’s prizes and Cardboard Memories will donate auction items. Drinks and snacks will be provided.
Ever since Harrison was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 7, the family has pulled together to fight for him. In addition to Hoops for Harrison, the entire family gets involved in CCFA fundraisers such as the Take Steps Walk and Harrison also runs a bake sale for E3 Day at North Shore Middle School, which raises money for CCFA. While it is a lot of work, the ultimate goal is to raise money and awareness to find a cure for the disease. Over the last few years, more biologic medications have become available, so they do feel like progress is being made.
“I know people who had no idea what Crohn’s and colitis was until Jagger and I started spreading awareness and having these events,” said Bradford.
“For me, if I didn’t do this, I don’t think I would be able to survive the diagnosis,” said Rachel Gillman, mother of Harrison and Jagger.
To register or donate visit http://online.ccfa.org/hoopsforharrison2017.