Shooting Touch Launches 24-Hour Basketball Marathon Fundraiser

St. Patrick’s day in Boston is basically a citywide holiday as the streets become filled with green to watch the annual holiday parade in South Boston. Coupled with the unseasonably warm temperatures and the holiday falling on a weekend, the city was even more festive this year. But the holiday seemed to have no effect 10 miles from the city, as over 150 basketball players descended on the campus of Lasell College to take part in Shooting Touch’s Play For Change event.

Dime highlighted the Shooting Touch Sabbatical Program in Dime #66 (pages 28-29) but if you are new to the program:

“The Shooting Touch is a non profit Boston based basketball organization that uses the sport of basketball to positively impact the lives of children both on and off the court. The Sabbatical Program was created three years ago to give college seniors a chance of a lifetime. Known as “The Basketball Peace Corps,” the Sabbatical Program grants college seniors the opportunity to travel the world and partake in a 10 month international work program using the platform of basketball to help foster education and influence positive social change in third world communities. Each grantee will be provided with a stipend of $25,000 to fund the entire journey.”

Shooting Touch has an annual gala that acts as their main fundraiser but with more and more people wanting to get involved in the program in some capacity, there was a need to create a fundraiser that focused on engagement. Engagement with not only participants from Shooting Touch’s camps and clinics but with supporters who wanted to volunteer their time to the support the mission. President and Founder, Justin Kittredge, knew that the only way to accomplish this was to take it to the basketball court, creating the first annual Play for Change – a 24-hour basketball marathon fundraiser.

The idea for the event was simple: recruit basketball players from around the area – middle schoolers, high schoolers, college players, adults of all ages – to raise money and partake in a 24-hour open gym. Players could come and go as they please, but the games and drills would be going on the whole 24 hours. To incentivize the fundraising effort, Shooting Touch offered prizes like t-shirts, Reebok basketball shoes and for the top fundraiser, tickets to the Reebok Luxury Suite at a Boston Celtics game.

With the help of Shooting Touch’s intern Kelsey Converse, a guard on Lasell College’s women’s basketball team, over 150 basketball players participated in the event and over $5,000 was raised. Even local rapper Moufy, known for his song “Boston” featuring Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, came through in the middle of the night and balled for four hours with his crew.

I visited the event twice, at the very beginning and close to the end; the enthusiasm of Kittredge and Converse was so high that it rubbed off on everyone in the gym, creating a contagious energy that fueled the play on the court.

I got there early on my first visit, an hour away from starting, when a middle school basketball team from New Hampshire surprised everyone by showing up early. The team didn’t seem to mind that not all was set up as they raced from their vans straight to the basketball court and began shooting. Shortly after Kittredge and Converse organized the group and began running drills and exercises, teaching while making it fun for all.

Arriving close to 1 p.m. the next day, basketball hadn’t stopped as a five-on-five full-court game was going on. At every five minutes, 10 new players would take the court – score was being kept but not really focused on as the joy of playing basketball was all that mattered for everyone. Talking with a lot of the players, many had been there since 6 a.m. and had just been playing pickup basketball the whole time – with no desire to stop.

Shooting Touch’s goal is to have the event duplicated in different cities next year, so at the same time in different parts of the country, basketball players would be Play-ing for Change. With Kittredge’s drive and desire to spread hope and change, expect a Shooting Touch Play for Change event in your city next year.

For more information on Shooting Touch check out their website: www.shootingtouch.com

How many straight hours could you play basketball for?

Follow Ananth on Twitter at @Ananth_Pandian.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.