PDT Sports Writer
With each cancer story comes the rallying of family and community in support of the suffering individual. It’s a struggle that has its ups and downs and in one local case, the response and support from the community is one is making for more ups than downs.
Friday night will be another example as the Minford-Portsmouth boys basketball contest will serve as the back drop for “Hoops for Hope.”
Ever since the summer, 3-year-old Boston Schwamberger has been fighting against Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, an inoperable tumor located on his brain stem. Since his diagnosis, several Scioto County organizations have conducted drives to help offset the costs for his parents, Joe and Ashley (Bennett) Schwamberger.
Portsmouth boys reserve coach Shane Rhea, along with Minford boys varsity coach Josh Shoemaker, have been at the forefront of the basketball fundraiser. Rhea said both parents have foregone their employment to be with their son and his treatments.
Not only is this game used to generate money for the family, it’s also a chance to raise awareness for childhood cancers.
“We hear a lot about breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and these other types of cancers but we never hear a lot about childhood cancer,” Rhea said. “There’s a lot of it in elementary schools across America and there again, we never hear about it or talk about it. It’s sort of that (thing) where people don’t want to talk about it because it affects the young people of America.”
The two schools have been selling shirts this month for the fundraiser. Rhea said a limited number of shirts will be on sale during the game. Cheerleaders and students will be carrying buckets for donations throughout the night. If shirts run out during the event, order forms will be available.
Part of the proceeds will go to the Schwamberger family. The other part will go towards childhood cancer awareness at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
A goal of $5,000 is what Rhea floated out but understands with the recent holiday that just passed, any monetary donations would be welcomed. So far an estimated 250 shirts have been sold.
Shoemaker, who is in his eighth year teaching in the Portsmouth City School District and Minford graduate, is glad to be a part of an event. Ashley is also a Minford alum.
“It was natural to make this more than just a game,” Shoemaker said.
His counterpart in the game, Gene Collins, echoes the sentiment. He said without the community, there is no high school sports.
“It’s a nice gesture, it’s great for both schools to be able to get together and raise money for cancer awareness,” Collins said. “I’m ecstatic that we’re in a position to be able to do it.”
While the night will be filled with hope for Boston, both coaches realize they will still be playing a high school basketball game against an opponent they may see later on this season in the Division III tournament.
“We’re trying to find an identity still,” Shoemaker said as his Falcons come into the game with a 5-2 mark.
For Collins, he hopes his Trojans can end a two-game losing streak and improve their 3-6 record. The key will be to contain Austin McBee and Jared McCray.
“We are going to definitely have our hands full with those two and they can run bodies at you,” Collins said. “They’re a very good team that’s very deep.”
The night kicks off with the reserve game starting at 6 p.m. and the varsity game to follow. No special announcements are planned to delay the varsity game.
Both schools plan on holding a similar event next year when Portsmouth travels to Minford. No word yet on which charity will be the focus.
Cody Leist may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org.