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St. Joseph rallies around Hoops for Hope fundraiser

By bY CLAY WHITTINGTON - CWHITTINGTON@VICAD.COM
Jan. 21, 2012 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 21, 2012 at 7:22 p.m.


HOOPS FOR HOPE GAME

Tuesday at St. Joseph High School; varsity game at 7:30 p.m.

Fundraiser is to raise money for ALS research.

Every player and every coach has one intention when preparing to face an opponent: Win.

But, sometimes the final score is secondary.

Sometimes, circumstances arise that put athletics into proper perspective, giving participants and their fans a more worthwhile cause to unify around.

St. Joseph's boys basketball game Tuesday night is one such instance.

The Flyers on-court encounter with Gonzales will be the culmination of the school's Hoops for Hope fundraiser - a Texas Association of Basketball Coaches' sanctioned campaign spearheaded locally by the St. Joseph boys basketball team and intended to raise money for and awarness of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

The progressive neurodegenerative disease currently affects approximately 30,000 Americans.

One, in particular, serves as the inspiration for the Flyers involvement.

Carolyn Shimek, wife of St. Joseph's longtime baseball manager and teacher Mike Shimek, was originally diagnosed with ALS in 2005. Symptoms, however, began arising at least two years prior.

"He really means so much to this school, and he has given us so much, not only as a teacher, but as a role model," Flyers senior guard Chris Mason said. "By coming together and showing support for him and his wife, it's a way to give back to him and show we appreciate him and how much he means to us."

According to Shimek, the compassion for his family and its situation is nothing new.

"In this whole situation, with dealing with this illness, we've had nothing but support from our immediate community and the community as a whole," Shimek said.

The team has been selling T-shirts as a means to raise money and will be raffling off a basketball autographed by the team, as well as other prizes, at the game.

So far, the fund-raiser has generated over $800 with the hopes of reaching $1,000 by the time the final buzzer sounds Tuesday. All profits and donations go directly toward ALS research.

The dedication displayed to the cause by the players since undertaking the endeavor has impressed their coach.

"This is something that the boys came up with," St. Joseph head coach Abraham Garcia said. "I brought them the idea of Hoops for Hope, and they jumped on ALS right off the bat. It is something they really wanted to do."

Although ALS research is at the heart of the fund-raiser, the byproduct of the campaign is equally rewarding.

"Our school has really rallied behind it," Mason said. "Basically, the entire school has bought the shirts, and we are expecting a great turnout for the game.

"It is really special to see everyone recognize a need in the community and not turn a blind eye and work together. The students have really come together."

Considering the catalyst for the entire fund-raiser stems from the Shimek family, it is a proper tribute.

"Everything you do, everywhere you go, you have to understand your responsibility as a positive role model," Shimek said.

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