The 14th Annual Hoops, Dreams and Goals tips off tomorrow, March 29th at Dorothy Garrett Coliseum in Big Spring. Carolyn Easter, with West Texas Centers, advised that the basketball tournament event is meant to bring awareness of people who’ve been diagnosed with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. She stated that March has always been the month when they've celebrated the awareness of the people that they serve and since the March Madness basketball tournaments are a big part of the month they decided to combine the two.
"The people that we serve enjoy playing basketball and what better way to bring the consumers together from all of our areas, our 23 counties, to play the game, to have fun, to enjoy the competition and just to make it their special day and bring awareness to them," said Easter.
The 10 basketball teams, surrounded by pep squads, cheerleaders and coaches will make their grand entrance down the ramp to the home floor of the Howard College Hawks and Lady Hawks beginning at 8:30 a.m. They will be led by the Big Spring High School Drumline and the Howard College Cheerleaders.
Before the tournament begins, a meaningful dedication and name-changing ceremony will take place that will change the tournament's name to the Darrell E. Smith Hoops, Dreams and Goals Basketball Tournament.
Teams will then compete throughout the day along with those from the Betty Hardwick Center, Permian Basin Community Centers, and MHMR Services for the Concho Valley.
Not only is the event fun for the participants but since the first year, it has grown to include pep squads, cheerleaders and numerous fans who watch throughout the day. Every team competes for the coveted “Spirit Stick” award for showing the most spirit, which is awarded to the teams and fans who show the most enthusiasm throughout the day.
When asked why this event was so special to West Texas Centers, Easter stated that it was a time when they get to bring awareness to the people that they serve on the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities side of the West Texas Centers.
She went on to say, "Just because a person has been diagnosed with a disability does not mean that they cannot participate in things that are in the community like a basketball tournament, cheerleading, or yelling for their team, and learning all kinds of things that they can do like working and their goals toward independence."
"It's just bringing that awareness to the individuals to let them know that they're people too," said Easter of the event. "They have dreams and goals just like we do," she continued, "and so we share that with them in a game of hoops."