Written by Jill Nossa Saturday, 08 February 2014 00:00
North Shore freshmen Jagger Gillman and Ethan Bradford organized a basketball clinic last month that was, by all accounts, a huge success. With a goal of raising money and awareness about Crohn’s disease, the event raised $2,300 for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).
“It was amazing and went very smoothly,” says Bradford. “It was bigger than expected, with more than 70 kids.”
He and Gillman, who are cousins, undertook the large task of planning the clinic, from coordinating with representatives of CCFA to securing the venue—the Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center in East Hills (JCC)—to recruiting and organizing the volunteers. In total, about 20 volunteers—mostly friends from North Shore High School—showed up to manage the stations and teach basketball skills to younger kids.
"It was so popular, we had to turn some people away,” says Bradford.
“I had a blast,” says volunteer Brett Bennett, a sophomore at North Shore High School, who had the job of teaching the euro step at his station. “I would definitely do it again.”
A member of the basketball team, Bennett says it was easy to teach the kids since he’s been playing basketball his whole life. About the experience, Bennett says, “I feel really good about myself...we were raising money for a good cause.”
Bradford and Gillman say they were thrilled with how smoothly everything went on the day of the clinic; not that they didn’t earn it. The two began planning the event last summer, spending hours of their free time doing the legwork to make sure it went off without a hitch.
“It was well-run, extremely organized,” says Sean Kurtzman, teen and travel camp coordinator at the JCC and Camp Jacobson. He noted that this was a very large event compared to others organized by teens. “They took it upon themselves and ran with it,” he says. “It was awesome; we’re expecting to make this an annual event for the community for many years to come.”
Becca Firestone, director of teen services at the JCC says, “It’s unique in that the boys brought it to us...they said ‘we deeply care about CCFA and we love basketball.’ It’s very exciting when teens find something they are passionate about and to see that matching of passion and skill.”
Also, she adds, “It’s impressive for their age; it’s rare to see that drive in a ninth-grader.”
The cousins have been involved in charity events for CCFA for some time; Gillman’s younger brother, Harrison, a sixth-grader at North Shore Middle School, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 7. Raising awareness about the disease, as well as raising money for research, in hopes of one day finding a cure was the main factor in putting on the clinic.
At the beginning of the program, the boys gave an introduction and explained to the kids what Crohn’s disease is.
“I told them that it affects the digestive system and it’s very painful, but ‘don’t worry, you can’t catch it,’” said Gillman. “I want to teach awareness and have them know it’s not something to be afraid of.”
Their moms were equally enthusiastic about the outcome.
“I’m so proud of them...they put on a big event, and I’m on cloud nine,” said Ethan’s mom, Sharyn Bradford.
“Everybody had a great time, and it ran without a hitch,” says Rachel Gillman, mom of Jagger and Harrison.
They said that, a week later, they were still getting calls from parents about how impressed they were with the event.
Already, they are planning the next one, also to be held next January on the Sunday before MLK day. And the JCC is happy to have them back.
“It’s a great way for them to leave a legacy, to leave their mark and do some good within the community,” says Firestone.