Returning for the first time since 2019, the Grays Harbor annual celebrity basketball game and fundraiser didn’t miss a beat in its performance on Saturday, March 11.
The event, which was held at Aberdeen High School, saw more than 250 people pack into the gymnasium bleachers to partake in raffles and auction bidding as well as enjoy multiple games of low-tension basketball in a yearly attempt to help raise funds for the Grays Harbor Hawks.
Associated with the Special Olympics of Washington and organized by the dedication of hardworking volunteers, the Grays Harbor Hawks allows individuals within the developmental disabilities community to compete in a wide variety of sports programs year-round. Led by Five Star Dealership, the festivity featured nearly 20 sponsorships and countless donors who contributed to the live auction and silent auction baskets.
The big attraction to the event came from the appearances of professional celebrities who not only played in the basketball game but took photos and chatted with people in attendance and on the court.
From former Seattle Seahawks players like Sean Locklear, Lofa Tatupu, Hillary Butler and Norm Johnson, to former Texas Rangers pitcher Gerald Smiley, multiple well-known sports personalities took to the court to play basketball and spread community engagement. Mario Bailey, the former Washington Huskies wide receiver, was unable to make the event due to a family emergency according to event organizers.
Paired with the professional celebrities, attendees cheered on six local notable members of the Grays Harbor community such as Miss Grays Harbor’s Outstanding Teen Saylor Heikkila, Ocean Shores Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Ritter, Hoquiam Fire Department Captain Larissa Rohr, retired Hoquiam Police Department Sargeant Shane Krohn, Aberdeen Athletics Nikki Stover, and Quigg and Co Real Estate owner David Quigg.
“It’s cool to see some of our well-known people in the community get the opportunity to help raise money for a great organization alongside athletes they probably grew up watching,” said Kathryn Hopkins, an Aberdeen resident. “My nephew has Down syndrome and it makes me feel overjoyed that our community has an outlet for kids or adults like him to enjoy as well as the fact that it seems highly supported.”
Outside of the segments that consisted of individual skill demonstrations, team skills competitions and cheerleading performances, the main basketball game was broken up into three 10-minute segments. The first game saw part of the celebrity team face off against the Grays Harbor Hawks’ White Hawks lineup. Although the score was close early on, the White Hawks led 20-4 going into intermission. In the second game, the Black Hawks lineup got the score up to 41-16, and despite a rally by the celebrity team in the third game, the Grays Harbor Hawks held on to win 51-40
While more than $15,000 was raised for the Gray Harbor Hawks, nearly $10,000 of it came from the live auction held at halftime as none of the 11 items for bidding went below $350. The biggest bid came from an individual who won two club tickets to a 2023 Seattle Seahawks regular season game that was donated by Seahawks General Manager John Schneider and his wife Traci.
Other auction items for bid included tickets to the Professional Bull Riding Ariat Invitational in Tacoma, charter boat fishing trips, Kraken tickets, a weekend getaway to Seabrook, and a Shawn Alexander autographed football helmet.
Contact Reporter Allen Leister at 360-463-3572 or firstname.lastname@example.org