A program of excellence: Bulldogs basketball fundraiser celebrates fans

Providing an evening of basketball, the Mahomet-Seymour basketball program welcomed community members to its 12th annual Mahomet Madness event at the Mahomet-Seymour High School's fieldhouse, 302 State St., from 4:45 to 7 p.m. Feb. 9.

Featuring five inflatables and basic skill-level basketball games, the fieldhouse was packed with fans who wanted to support the Mahomet-Seymour basketball program in its annual fundraiser. The concept started as a simple way to get people out of their homes in the middle of winter but has now turned into a fan-favorite event.

"We started to create an atmosphere and sell our brand and tell our story about our program," said Chad Benedict, Mahomet-Seymour High School varsity basketball coach. "As time goes on, we do use it as a fundraiser, but it's also become a thing our kids look forward to."

Benedict's favorite part of the evening is allowing the players and the coaching staff of the junior high, junior varsity and varsity basketball programs to visit with kiddos and their families.

"We're at the point now, we see all those kids who come to Mahomet Madness and some of those kids are wearing a jersey and that's fun to be a part of that process."

Wristbands for the event were $5 and included the cost to bounce on the five inflatables, play basketball skill-level games and admission into the junior varsity and varsity basketball games against Taylorville at 6 and 7 p.m., respectively.

Event organizer Angela Carr said she enjoys assisting in event that inspires a younger audience of basketball players.

"It encourages the younger kids that this is something they can be a part of," she said.

Carr's son, Zach, has played basketball since fourth grade, and now as a freshman, she views the sport as a way to teach him the value of working on a team.

"It's taught him that you can't do it all yourself," she added.

Parent-volunteer Andy Travis assisted with a skill-level basketball game for youths in the fieldhouse. He viewed the event as an overall good fundraiser to help the program.

For his son Zach, a freshman player, Travis said basketball has taught valuable life lessons.

"He's had to be more responsible for his grades in high school versus junior high (while playing basketball)," Travis said.

Aside from teaching players key disciplines, the M-S basketball program also provides a place of support for many players, such as Ryan Emmerd.

Emmerd's mother, Melinda, said that a few years ago she was diagnosed with cancer and the M-S athletic program became a real asset for her son to receive support and social opportunities.

"As a three-sport athlete, he's committed and dedicated," Melinda Emmerd said. "I like the sense of community supports basketball brings."

Proceeds from the fundraiser benefit the Mahomet-Seymour basketball program and reduce costs related to equipment, travel and uniform expenses.

"We'll do different things in the summer. We went to Indiana State and Purdue last summer," Benedict said. "We'll use the funds to help offset the cost of those trips. We like getting kids exposed to different experiences and college campuses. We have some players who every now and then maybe can't afford a pair of shoes or who need a meal after the game; these funds help us with those kids, too."

Benedict thanked the countless parents, sponsors and volunteers for assisting with Mahomet Madness. He hopes the event will continue next year.

"It's gotten to the point, to me, the fundraising part of it is nice, but the value of bringing the community together and letting adults and high school kids see that sense of community," Benedict said. "That's one of the nice the nice things about Mahomet — we're a big school with a small-town feel. We've got an opportunity to promote that and that's what makes us unique."

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