On Sept. 18 at the Indoor Recreation Center in Johnston, 16 basketball teams came together to take part in a basketball tournament that raised $6,000 for local causes. The tournament, called Hoops for Hope, was co-founded by Matthew
On Sept. 18 at the Indoor Recreation Center in Johnston, 16 basketball teams came together to take part in a basketball tournament that raised $6,000 for local causes.
The tournament, called Hoops for Hope, was co-founded by Matthew Patty and Tony Zangari, both agents at Warwick’s Century 21 Shoreline Properties. It brought together some of the state’s best basketball players to raise funds for causes close to the founders’ hearts.
Patty said he created this tournament to spread goodwill, also “to pay a debt of gratitude to Hasbro Children’s Hospital,” which has taken care of so many children in its NICU, including his own and those of his fellow real estate agents.
Zangari, a local basketball referee and the head of RI Men’s Bball (rimensbball.com), helped to recruit teams to play in the tournament. He also helped secure sponsors for the event, which included organizations from the local mortgage, insurance and restaurant communities.
The tournament began at 10 a.m. and operated bracket-style. Each team of four played half-court, eliminating competitors until one team remained. Zangari explained that through his networks, he was able to recruit competitive, frequent basketball players, which made the tournament more exciting.
“A lot of people truly enjoyed themselves,” Zangari said after the event. “We’re here to give back, and we were able to do that. And at the same time, people were able to have fun in that environment, which is a win-win for us.”
Patty competed on a team with Isaac Belovitch, Carlos Munoz and Steve Lopes. In the end, their team took home the championship. The winners decided, however, to return their $500 grand prize back to the pot for donations.
One of the tournament’s causes was to help cover medical expenses for 2-year-old Garen Yepremian of Cranston, who, on Aug. 19, completed a kidney removal/living donor transplant at Boston Children’s Hospital. Garen is diagnosed with chronic kidney failure and had been on dialysis since he was 4 months old.
Garen received the new kidney a day before his second birthday, which his father, Sebouh Yepremian, said “was a great birthday gift.”
Yepremian expressed gratitude and surprise at the continued outpouring of support for his family.
“The people’s generosity is incredible,” he said, explaining that his family has received attention statewide from local families, WJAR and other news outlets. Yepremian stays humble, though, explaining the family has asked for nothing, yet continues to receive words of encouragement and financial help.
Garen is recovering at home but still must take twice-weekly trips to Boston for checkups and bloodwork to ensure his new kidney is functioning properly.
The family set up a GoFundMe account for Garen’s post-surgery expenses, and the Hoops for Hope tournament was able to present a $1,000 donation to nudge them toward their goal.
The remaining $5,000 was split up to support three other causes; $2,000 was donated to the Women & Infants’ Family Fund, $2,000 was given to Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and $1,000 was presented to the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation in honor of Warwick-based real estate agent Elisa Del Verme Castiglia, who recently passed away.
Patty and Zangari have decided they would like to continue this tournament into the future. They are planning to run the event again next year, hopefully at the same location, and aim to recruit 32 teams to play instead of 16.
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