On Thursday, the Morton boys basketball team will set out on the inaugural GameBall Run.
The run, a collaboration with Dunlap, will have both teams dribbling a basketball to the Children’s Hospital of Illinois to help raise money for the hospital.
A day later, the two teams will meet in a Mid-Illini Conference matchup at Morton.
The run first came about through various volunteers in Morton.
“There’s some active volunteers for the Children’s Hospital in the Village of Morton,” Carol Jankowski said. “They were looking at a way to generate some interest outside of the immediate Peoria area. They talked to Coach (Jarrett) Brown and made a presentation to him and he was on board.
“He’s always looking for ways to have his players be involved in the community service, so that tied into what he’s trying to do all the time.”
Jankowski said that, while this is one of the first times the high school has partnered with the Children’s Hospital like this, they do various athletic fundraisers throughout the year.
Other sports that raise money for groups include the football team with Black Out Night for Easter Seals and the volleyball and girls basketball teams with Pink Nights for breast cancer awareness.
“A strength of the Morton community and schools is the on-going willingness and desire to serve others,” Superintendent Lindsey Hall said. “The boys basketball team is no exception, and their participation in this event is characteristic of the service and giving back that is so important in the development and growth of our Morton High School students.”
Besides being one of the first times that Morton High School has worked with the Children’s Hospital, this is also one of the first times the school has worked with another town like this. Jankowski said that working with Greg Crider, the current athletic director at Dunlap High School and former principal in Morton, has made the process easier.
“This event is made complete by the participation and same focus on service and giving back being exhibited by our friends in Dunlap,” Hall said.
Throughout the fundraising that has been done for the run, Jankowski said she has been amazed at the connections people have had to the hospital, either by working there, having a child who went there or knowing someone who did.
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All money raised through the event will go to the Children’s Hospital, where Wendy Mitchell, the annual fund director, works with doctors and nurses to see where the money is needed.
“The dollars might be designated toward the purchase of a piece of new equipment or to help provide financial support to families during their most stressful time,” Mitchell said.
So far, Mitchell said the two schools have raised more than $10,000 for the hospital.
“We are thrilled to be the recipient of the first-ever Morton vs. Dunlap GameBall run,” Mitchell said. “I am very impressed that these high school students are willing to go above and beyond to raise money and awareness for our patients and their families. Their respective communities should be so proud of this endeavor!”
When Morton gets to the hospital, it will be the second trip this school year the team has made. Earlier in the year, the team went and walked through the hospital.
Jankowski added that this may not be the only GameBall Run that is held.
“I think Coach Brown would definitely like to see if he could make this a tradition, and it looks like it will be a fun event,” she said.