TJ Bullock lost his mother to breast cancer three years ago. He still misses her every day, and the anniversary of her death is always difficult.
So this year, the UCF graduate student decided to create a basketball tournament to benefit cancer research and hopefully find a cure so other sons and daughters won’t have to go through what he does.
Bullock got some help from a few friends and mentors to make his idea a reality. He was able to launch the inaugural 3×3 Hooping for a Cure Basketball Tournament on Sept. 29 with all proceeds benefiting the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
“My goal was to give participants the chance to use basketball as a tool to fund-raise for cancer research,” said Bullock, who is in the DeVos Sports Business Management Program. He is also a graduate assistant for The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), which grades major league organizations on their racial and gender hiring. “I want to make this an annual event and am already looking forward to next year.”
He said the tournament, held just a few days before Breast Cancer Awareness Month, has raised more than $3,000 and donations are still coming in.
Forty-four participants comprising 12 local teams competed in the round robin format in the gym at the College of Education and Human Performance.
Bullock said the idea for the tournament came about from an assignment where he had to create a sports event. While visiting his home in Geneva, Switzerland, this past April, Bullock met with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) who informed him of its 3×3 tournament requirements and their movement. They encouraged him to start his own tournament at UCF.
Donna Orender, a personal mentor and board member of the V Foundation for Cancer Research, helped connect Bullock to secure a partnership. DeVos Sport Business Management graduates Nathalie Reshard and Rita Grayson put Bullock in touch with USA Basketball, so the tournament would qualify for the National 3×3 Tournament in Colorado Springs.
After months of planning, Bullock saw his idea become a reality.
UCF men’s basketball coach Johnny Dawkins served as the celebrity judge for the slam dunk contest before the tournament finals. Chris John took the win with an in-between the legs dribble leading into his dunk. Team TNT edged Three da Hardaway 19-14 to win the tournament and qualify for the National 3×3 Tournament in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“When you are working on something that is bigger than you with your own vision in mind, it makes you work so much harder and you enjoy it so much more,” said Bullock, who hopes to work within FIBA operations to grow and promote the game globally upon graduation in December.
Eventually he plans to create a basketball academy in Zimbabwe, his mother’s home country.
To find out more about the tournament and to donate click here.