Hoops for Hope still going strong

Vols in Hoops for Hope

David Sexton said the tally is up $30,000. The 49 smiles at Farragut High School said it's much higher.

Hoops for Hope, a basketball fundraiser born from the big heart of Sexton's son, Trey, celebrated its five-year anniversary Saturday. As they do every year, the Tennessee men's and women's teams spent two hours playing alongside children and young adults with Down syndrome.

"You can't help but get goose bumps — I've got goose bumps, the players have goose bumps," said UT men's associate head coach Tracy Webster. "You see how much those kids are enjoying the experience. It's a great chance to treat others how you want to be treated."

Hoops for Hope began as Trey Sexton's charitable project for the Eagle Scouts. He was 12 years old when he attended a game at Thompson-Boling Arena and saw two teams of children with special needs play at halftime. Soon after, he approached the UT basketball office.

Former coaches Bruce Pearl and Pat Summitt both signed on and the event began in 2008 with proceeds — now up to $30,000 — going to the Down Syndrome Awareness Group of East Tennessee.

Upon the recent regime changes in both programs, Cuonzo Martin and Holly Warlick each agreed to keep the party going.

"To see the big smiles on their faces and making sure that they're having fun — that's what it's all about," Warlick said Saturday.

Nowadays, Trey Sexton is a freshman at BYU. His younger sister, Allie, a senior at Farragut, has been handed the torch. Overseeing the whole operation, David Sexton can only shake his head. That old Eagle Scout project has taken on a life of its own.

"We thought this would be a one-year deal, but the players loved it and the families loved it, so UT asked Trey to do it the next year," David Sexton said.

Tennessee sophomore Josh Richardson spent the morning dishing out assists and hugs. The Oklahoma native's family has been dealt the difficult burden of Down syndrome. Two first cousins have the condition.

Richardson remembers growing up with the responsibility of including them and the confusion of understanding their realities.

"You might not even know how much fun they're having and how much they appreciate it," he said. "Sometimes they can't really express it in words the way we can."

Saturday's 49 participants ranged from being highly functional to severely disabled.

The UT players lined up as each was introduced for Thompson-Boling Arena-style team introductions. Vols senior forward Jeronne Maymon, serving as the public address announcer, belted out the participants' names.

Then the Vols shared the court with their new teammates.

Those goose bumps that Webster mentioned — they danced on every made basket.

"There are so many little tender moments," David Sexton said. "It's just heartwarming what this means to these families."

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/BFQuinn

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Comments » 9

voloffaith writes:

Thank you!!! A story of VOLS doing it the right way!! Timing is great after last two bumpy days...I'll never forget little Mary Catherine at 18 mths smiling at me and other church members and the joy she brought others in her short life...early introduction to non-prejudicial thinking goes a long way in supporting both the child and the parents..bravo UT for signing on and keepin' on...

voloffaith writes:

Be careful if you watch the vol you tube from today...you might think you got some dust in your eyes that made them water......great after saga of futbol youth wasted...keep a tissue close by...

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Great thing here. These young men and women will learn some stuff from working with these special people. Good stuff. First they'll learn an appreciation for the people who work day in and day out with special needs children. It's not always easy. It's hard work. But I know for a fact these workers love what their jobs are about. Thanks to you all.

Mama_Also_Calls_Me_Precious writes:

Great feel good story, but how about a few more articles on Lady Vol basketball. I wanna hear more about the top recruits still available for 2013. Do we have a chance with Russell?? Is Davis still considering us?? How is 2014 shaping up?? Things of that nature.

Volinflan writes:

in response to Mama_Also_Calls_Me_Precious:

Great feel good story, but how about a few more articles on Lady Vol basketball. I wanna hear more about the top recruits still available for 2013. Do we have a chance with Russell?? Is Davis still considering us?? How is 2014 shaping up?? Things of that nature.

Yeaa! Just today they updated the Lady Vols Roster. Not much info about the new Players.

There probably has not been much "scuttlebutt" about recruiting because there hasn't been much going on. What I have seen has not been very exciting for us Vol fans. Peyton Whitted committed to Penn State and Rebecca Greenwell narrowed her list to Notre Dame and Duke. I think Greenwell and Davis played on a summer team together. Hope they're not gonna run off the same direction. Another "big" that a lot of people are looking at, Alex Harris, has a list of three, not including Tennessee.

Anyway, it's just a little over two months before signing day so we'll soon start seeing a lot of action. It's almost as much fun as the season! We need a "big" post and maybe a couple of shooting guards. I'm looking foward to seeing how good a shooter Phillips is.

voloffaith writes:

in response to Volinflan:

Yeaa! Just today they updated the Lady Vols Roster. Not much info about the new Players.

There probably has not been much "scuttlebutt" about recruiting because there hasn't been much going on. What I have seen has not been very exciting for us Vol fans. Peyton Whitted committed to Penn State and Rebecca Greenwell narrowed her list to Notre Dame and Duke. I think Greenwell and Davis played on a summer team together. Hope they're not gonna run off the same direction. Another "big" that a lot of people are looking at, Alex Harris, has a list of three, not including Tennessee.

Anyway, it's just a little over two months before signing day so we'll soon start seeing a lot of action. It's almost as much fun as the season! We need a "big" post and maybe a couple of shooting guards. I'm looking foward to seeing how good a shooter Phillips is.

Anything on topic? Hoops for Hope......Nah forget the kids and tell me recruiting...sorry you miss a great story line and video in the world of "tell me something good...tell me.."

Volinflan writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Anything on topic? Hoops for Hope......Nah forget the kids and tell me recruiting...sorry you miss a great story line and video in the world of "tell me something good...tell me.."

I think I started this. My favorite aunt (Down's Syndrome) taught me how to dip snuff (Garrett's). I was fifteen before I knew I shouldn't dip her used snuff. I've been to a lot of middle school special olympics - wife was a special ed teacher. Helped give them medals and had them to my house for ice cream. Loved them all.

But this is a basketball forum. We cannot start a new thread so after a while we comment on what GoVolsXtra gives us. Sometimes the comments may not be in spirit with the thread but no disrespect meant.

voloffaith writes:

in response to Volinflan:

I think I started this. My favorite aunt (Down's Syndrome) taught me how to dip snuff (Garrett's). I was fifteen before I knew I shouldn't dip her used snuff. I've been to a lot of middle school special olympics - wife was a special ed teacher. Helped give them medals and had them to my house for ice cream. Loved them all.

But this is a basketball forum. We cannot start a new thread so after a while we comment on what GoVolsXtra gives us. Sometimes the comments may not be in spirit with the thread but no disrespect meant.

All is fair in love n war n blogs n......all ok..we move on without aggravation to either party....

Mama_Also_Calls_Me_Precious writes:

in response to voloffaith:

All is fair in love n war n blogs n......all ok..we move on without aggravation to either party....

Then quit aggravating other parties..

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