Slam Dunk

Some play for glory, some play for the money, but the Lady Golden Falcons basketball teams of Falconer Central School play in honor of lost loved ones.

For the past three years area residents and students of Falconer Central School have come together to raise funds for Hospice Chautauqua County at the annual Hoops For Hospice benefit. The event, which is scheduled for Monday, begins at 6 p.m. with a junior varsity game and will be followed at 7:30 p.m. with a varsity game. The Lady Golden Falcons will face off against the Southwestern Lady Trojans. The benefit will also feature a halftime show, Chinese auction, basket drawings, a bake sale and concessions will be available.

According to Emily Scholeno, coach of Falconer girls basketball teams, the Chautauqua County community is fortunate enough to have a service that provides individualized end-of-life care that meets the specific needs of terminally ill patients and their families, so it is critical that these services are properly funded.

“One of my best friends’ mom passed away from cancer and Hospice had a big part with the family and with her and that’s what made me want to start doing Hoops for Hospice,” said Scholeno. “It’s a great event for the community and it shows the girls our Falconer pride. Plus, the proceeds go to a good cause.”

Over the course of the last three years the program has grown in popularity and as a result evolved in positive ways. The first year was a way for Scholeno and the teams to get their feet wet in regards to hosting a benefit. The second year T-shirts by the Jock Shop were added and the color chosen was pink in support of breast cancer. Scholeno said that the program raised about $800 that year. For the third year T-shirts were done again but they changed to purple to represent Hospice. That year more than $1,300 was raised. This year the shirts were changed to teal in recognition of ovarian cancer.

Even though this year’s program has not yet started, Scholeno said that she has already received quite a bit in donations.

“The event hasn’t even happened yet and I believe we’ve raised about $900,” said Scholeno.

During the event on Monday, each girl playing in both the junior and varsity games will have their name announced along with the name of whom they will play in honor or memory.

“It’s so that game is played with their thoughts on those they wish to honor,” said Scholeno. “Southwestern has also been absolutely phenomenal and they have all bought one of our T-shirts this year. So, every girl on the court will be wearing one. The girls really look forward to this event and they feel special that they are able to host such a good event – it’s just so beneficial for everyone all-around.”

Not only will the evening be a means to support Hospice, but it will also serve as a senior recognition night in which seniors on the basketball and cheerleading teams will be honored. In addition, the event will feature a stand with information about “Hearts of Heather.” The program is a benefit for Heather Lefford Edborg, a Falconer alumni from the class of 1990 and a former athlete, is currently fighting a battle with cancer.

The proceeds from the event will support programs and services offered by Hospice Chautauqua County. According to Megan D’Angelo, director of community relations for Hospice Chautauqua County, there are a lot of advanced services that Hospice provides which aren’t covered by medicare so the organization relies on the community as a whole for support.

“Hoops for Hospice is something that has been generating a lot of funds for a lot of things we can do for people in the community,” said D’Angelo. “I think it’s a unique program because it brings a lot of the younger generation to a point where there is more awareness for what Hospice does and why we do it. Emily Scholeno knows what we are all about and it’s a great thing to have people like that who are involved, know our mission and can support us in these ways.”

Those who cannot attend the event, but still wish to offer support can email Scholeno at EScholeno@falcon.wnyric.org or by calling 665-6624, ext. 4215.

For more information call 338-0033 or visit www.hospicechautco.org.