A Wauconda basketball tournament raised nearly $5,000 for the March of Dimes and American Cancer Society last month, organizers say.
"It's one example of the community rallying around one of its own," said Juan Arjona, Wauconda Hoops director. "We help use the opportunity to pour ourselves into charity to help others."
The tournament was held in memory of the son of organizers Don and Vicki Tumilson. Robert was born premature and died two days after birth six years ago. His twin brother, Thomas, survived.
"The original charity (selected) was the March of Dimes; that was a no-brainer," Vicki Tumilson said. "They help children born premature and their families."
Tumilson said Thomas is doing well and is still in physically therapy.
"I think it's important that people get together and do things like this to raise awareness of premature birth," Tumilson said. "There are so many affects of premature birth."
The charity tournament also raised money for the American Cancer Society in honor of a former player and a Wauconda Hoops referee and mentor.
The tournament has grown in reputation over the years, Arjona said.
"We started gaining the reputation of being one of the best ranked tournaments in Illinois," he said.
Fifty-six teams from feeder programs such as Marion Central, Barrington, McHenry, Hersey and Lakes high schools participated in the tournament; they are part of the West Suburban Basketball League for 5th- through 8th-grade students.
Organizers used volunteers within the Wauconda Hoops program, former players and Tumilson's friends and family to run the event, including scoring and refereeing.
"One of the things we pride ourselves on is that parents can come in and relax and watch their team. The charity runs it all," Tumilson said.
This tournament was the last one the Tumilson family plans on organizing, but Arjona said the Wauconda Hoops program will continue to host it, and they are already working on renaming it and designing a new logo.