As bright LED lights flickered on Mitch Case, he looked up at the empty seats in a quiet Hy-Vee arena.
“We have reached out to over 60 kids this year,” Case, a sales engineer at Midwest Machinery and co-founder of Mommy Meals, said of preparations for the KC Hoops Shootout — a first run fundraiser that teams the company and Martin Mechanical with Freedom Hoops — a basketball driven non-profit that uses the sport to mentor underserved youth.
The March 12 event aims to raise $10,000 for Freedom Hoops programming, which also includes ministry work.
“From my perspective, a believer in Christ, I believe it is incredibly important for anyone to be exposed to faith, but through actions first and then words,” Case said, noting the importance of the work being done by Freedom Hoops.
Click here to learn more about the organization, which also offers open gym sessions, organized team play, and one-on-one mentoring.
“Hopefully through my actions, these kids are exposed to mine and others’ faith in Jesus Christ, which allows them to explore and ask questions and determine for themselves what faith means to them,” he said.
As the organizers look to bring the KC Hoops Shootout onto the scene, they’re hopeful Hy-Vee Arena will help to drive further interest in the event.
“People tend to go down to Power & Light during the Big 12 tournament, but for those that don’t have tickets and still want the hype of the tournament, this is going to be the place to be,” Case said, noting the Big 12 will be played on courtside TVs and at the arena’s bar, offering those who’ve yet to experience the former Kemper Arena in its new-era a glimpse inside.
A three-on-three tournament, knockout tournament, and three-point contest will coincide with the watch party and happy hour.
Click here for tickets to the KC Hoops Shootout.
“We are kinda going against the grain, but we are focusing on the idea [that] if you are going downtown to watch basketball, why not make it worthwhile and participate in something that is fun and interactive?” he added.
As with running any non-profit, financial challenges are around every corner, Case said in explanation of why Midwest Machinery has partnered with Freedom Hoops.
“[Originally] I was hoping to overcome any deficit they needed to afford a 15 passenger van that they were trying to raise money for, but fortunately they were able to reach that on their own,” added.
Through the shootout, fundraising goals have shifted to aiding operational costs for the nonprofit — which include such things as hosting tournaments, mentorship dinners, and food for the organization’s weekly, Tuesday night gatherings.
A breakdown provided by Case revealed a $250 dollar donation would cover tournament registration fees and feed a team of 10; a $100 donation could feed 40 kids on a Tuesday night; A $25 injection fuels one mentor meals session with a coach and two players.