“One shot can save a life.” 

In 2017, cancer was the second-ranked leading cause of death in both the United States and the District of Columbia.  According to the World Health Organization, “cancer is responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018.” 

In its eighth year, the Hoop for All Foundation continued to advocate and promote cancer awareness, prevention and treatment through its annual three-on-three basketball tournament located at Banneker Park in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Sept. 14. 

With a specialized focus on brain cancer, the nonprofit organization raised roughly $1,500 for two cancer patients through various fundraising efforts and monetary donations. 

Since the first tournament in 2012, founders and 2014 Howard graduates Kiera “KB” Thomas and Ayokunle “Ayo” Amoo have seen growth in all areas including attendees, volunteers and sponsorships. 

Founders Kiera “KB” Thomas (left) and Ayokunle “Ayo” Amoo (right) at the 6th annual Hoop for Hope basketball tournament at Banneker Park in September 2017.

“The growth has been outstanding. It’s what we expected but also more than we could’ve ever imagined. Our committee has really become the backbone of what we do. They help us tie lose ends while Ayo and I can really focus on other things,” shared Thomas.

For future events, “I would like to see more women involvement in the foundation outside of the committee [members]. [I am] looking forward to kicking off events for women to play and participate,” Thomas said. 

Guest appearances included three-time NBA All-Star Steven Francis and streetball veteran Randy Gill, better known as “White Chocolate” who attended Bowie State University.

“When I got drafted, [Banneker] was one of the first courts I ever refurbished. So when I found out about the tournament, it was only right for me to come back to where I started. It’s a good opportunity for people like myself to give a helping hand,” Francis told freelance journalist Nayo Campbell.

Amari Smith, a Howard graduate and the tournament’s ultimate ride-or-die supporter, has volunteered for seven years–the longest out of all committee members. Despite residing in New Jersey, she makes an effort to come out every year. 

“Everything about it makes me return! The founders started this as students and it has grown and helped so many people. For many of us, cancer survivors and patients include our family members, loved ones and friends, so it really hits close to home,” Smith said.

She continued. 

“I’ve seen how grateful people are that Hoop for All exists, the impact its made on the community and the awareness that it brings to us all. I’m a supporter forever and will continue to do whatever needs to be done.” 

Over the past seven years, Hoop For Hope has remained consistent with its recurring theme of cancer awareness and has raised thousands of dollars for breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, blood cancer and childhood cancer.

“The event impacts and motivates the surrounding community. We bring a unique street basketball experience while educating the people,” said Amoo. It’s always important to give back. No matter how big or small. This tournament is and will always be a part of our lives. We were called to do this as sophomores at Howard and the tournament will continue for generations to come.”

An event for all ages–the tournament featured dunk and three-point contests catering to all skill levels, interactive activities, giveaways, food and live halftime musical and choreographed performances by the Howard University Bisonettes, Kaviar Sundays and K. Dub

Partners and sponsors included Target, Gatorade, Red Bull, Under Armour, Howard University Hospital and the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation. 

According to Amoo, next year’s focus will be cervical cancer. Information and updates on partnerships, sponsorships in addition to team and volunteer registration for 2020 can be found here