Hoops For Hope: An Old Rivalry With A New Cause

Hoops For Hope: An Old Rivalry With A New Cause

By J. L. Shively

While they may be against each other on the court, Cedar Grove and Verona varsity girls’ basketball teams were brought together this year for a common cause.

Long-time rivals, the teams versed each other during a regularly scheduled season game on Fri., Feb. 19 at Cedar Grove High School. This competition in particular, however, was something special for everyone involved.

This game was part of a fundraiser entitled Hoops for Hope. Steve Gallagher, vice principal at Cedar Grove High School states, for this game, more than any of the others, they “hoped to pack the gym.”

The idea for the fundraising event was initiated by Cedar Grove basketball player, Elyse Fearon, whose father, Bill, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, in May 2015.

According to the American Brain Tumor Association website glioblastomas “are tumors that arise from astrocytes” which are the cells that make up the brain’s supportive tissue. These types of tumors “are usually highly malignant (cancerous) because the cells reproduce quickly.”

To raise awareness as well as raise funding for further research about this brain cancer, Elyse wanted to create an event that would rouse support for the cause and tying it in with the Cedar Grove/Verona game was a bonus.

“They are friendly rivals,” Gallagher explains of a rivalry between the two schools which stretches back nearly 50 years. The promotion of fundraising events with these two teams becoming united is an “extension of keeping that rivalry going,” Gallagher says.

“I have known the Fearon family for ten years,” Cedar Grove basketball coach, Bill Scanlon states, “when we heard of Bill’s illness we were very concerned for the family.”

The game opened with Jess Fearon, Elyse’s sister, singing the National Anthem and ended in double over-time with Cedar Grove overcoming Verona 38 to 33. “It was a tremendous evening,” says Scanlon, “[The event] was phenomenal. It was a great community event.”

The event received overwhelming support from both the student body as well as the community. “It was packed,” Scanlon says of the attending crowd, estimating about 600 people filled the bleachers that night.

The money raised from the event will be donated to the Caroline Vandermark Fund for Brain and Spine Research at the Hackensack Medical Center. The John Theurer Cancer Center at the Hackensack Medical Center is where Bill is currently undergoing treatment.

Janice Fearon, Elyse’s mother, recalls the overwhelming support the event received from Cedar Grove and Verona residents as well as the staff from the Hackensack Medical Center. Seven staff members from the research and fundraising divisions at the medical center were present at the game. “They are the greatest bunch of people ever,” Fearon says, and “they were overwhelmed by how successful it was.”

Donations were taken at the door on the evening of the game and snacks and drinks were sold. A t-shirt, bearing the Hoops for Hope logo designed by a Cedar Grove alumni were also part of the fundraising sale. In total the event raised $4,300.

This was the first event of its kind for the Cedar Grove basketball team but, Gallagher explains that they are “trying to start a tradition.” It is the hope that this event will be continued next year by the Verona basketball coach and volley between the two schools in the years that follow.

“Both towns came together and wore Hoops for Hope t-shirts,” Fearon says of the phenomenal support this event received. “Everyday there is a huge surprise about how great people are.”

Scanlon sums up the evening stating, “It was a great cause,” and with Cedar Grove taking on Verona, “it was a great game” to watch.


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