For one Wednesday evening in March, Colonial Middle School (CMS) students, parents, teachers and administrators hit the courts in the new Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS) gym for a 4 on 4 basketball tournament. The Jason Taylor 4 on 4 raised money for brain cancer research in honor of a CMS teacher who passed away last year.
"We all loved Mr. Taylor," said Luke Gartland, a CMS student on the committee who helped organize the event. "We're raising money in honor of who he was as a person."
The students chose "movies" as the theme for the 4 on 4, so the 60 sixth, seventh and eighth grade teams that participated in the event had names like The Incredibles, Benchwarmers, Thunderstruck and Inside Out.
"It's really fun," said CMS eighth grader Lonna Buono. "My favorite part is everyone here, being with my friends."
With the number of players plus the box office counting parents and fans, more than 700 people attended the event.
"Look at all these kids that are here. It's amazing," said Bob Fahler, CMS Principal and one of the referees for the event. "I just love being part of it."
The Hoops for Hope club at CMS, sponsored by Guidance Counselor Matt Doroshow, ran a 4 on 4 tournament at the school for more than a dozen years, until announcing that last year's event would be the last. Parents approached the CMS PTO with the idea of rebranding the 4 on 4 in honor of Mr. Taylor, and the group took on the project.
"I really did think it was over last year, and I think it's pretty cool that the PTO kept it together, because it's a really fun event that I know everyone loves to play in," said Erin Daley, CMS eighth grader and member of the Honey I Shrunk the Kids team.
Holding the event in the PWHS gym allowed the organizers to run six games simultaneously — and play through the brackets for all three grades in one night.
"Since we're doing something different this year, I didn't expect as many people to come," said Tyler Gartland, a CMS student on the organizing committee. "I didn't expect this big of a turnout. It's great. It's very successful."
The PTO credits the success of the event on the generosity of the Colonial Community. Sponsors included PWAC Swimming, McKeevers General Contractors, Kriescher Miller, Mixx Fitness, Bridgeport Dental Care and Harvest Trailer Leasing. Food donations came from Herr's, Tonelli's Pizza, Chickie & Pete's, Corropolese, La Colombe, Fette Sau and Frankford Hall.
"Whenever we asked for donations or volunteers, every slot was filled," said Deb Brenner, who co-chaired the event with fellow CMS PTO member Dana Olszewski. "Everyone was so giving. It was unreal."
Through ticket sales, food concessions and selling out of the sportswear, the 2019 Jason Taylor 4 on 4 brought in $9,000 for brain cancer research.