Updated 08/18/2012 03:57 PM
Basketball tournament raises awareness about violence
Folks in the Mohawk Valley are hitting the basketball court to help raise awareness about recent violence. Our Beth Croughan has more.
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"It's the first strides to making a difference, bringing all these kids together," said "Stop the Violence" tournament organizer Calvin Martin.
At least 150 young kids and teens laced up their sneakers Saturday and hit the basketball courts in Amsterdam's Veterans Park.
"It's not just going to be a summer basketball tournament. In the fall we're going to do things, in the winter we're going to do things. We're going to stay proactive," Martin explained of his goals.
The three on three tournament was organized by four friends in their twenties. It was a fundraiser to further positive programming in the community.
"We want to get the ball rolling. We want to become a snowball effect of positiveness," said another organizer, John Sumpter.
Earlier, when speaking to the crowd, Sumpter laid out the tournament rules.
"We want to prevent injuries and unnecessary harm to anybody," he said over the microphone.
It's been a little more than a month since harm had found its way there. This past July, police said Paul Damphier, 16, and Jonathan DeJesus, 13, were found shot to death in the Town of Florida. Two other teens and former classmates have since been charged with their murders.
"And we miss Paul, we love Paul with all our heart, we want him to be here, but he's not coming back. So we're going to use this, we're going to use this as motivation, ambition," said Martin.
So with the help of friends and city stakeholders, Paul's cousins, Calvin and Casey Martin, work to send a message to Amsterdam's youth.
“We're going to have more programs and just show kids that it's cool to do other things than just hang out and do drugs and get into the wrong things," said Casey Martin.
It was a message meant to sink in with every basket Saturday.
The Martin cousins are members of Amsterdam's Community Crisis Task Force, a collaborative effort between the Greater Amsterdam School District, St. Mary's Hospital, Centro Civico and the City of Amsterdam. Donations to help with future youth programming can be made to Centro Civico at 143-145 East Main Street in Amsterdam.
For more information on the cousins' efforts, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.