Some kids spent their Labor Day on the basketball court.
But others spent it at Rockford’s 4th annual Hoopstars event.
The free 3 on 3 basketball tournament welcomes boys and girls between the 3rd and 8th grade to participate.
Basketball has always been a big part of Senator Steve Stadelman’s life, so he created the event as a way to unite the community.
“It’s a great activity on the holiday, it gives them something to do, and it’s free. And if you look at the courts, it’s a diverse group of kids from all across the community, and I think it’s because it’s free,” said Senator Steve Stadelman. “And it’s got good synergy. Just a positive event here in downtown Rockford, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
This year added a new charity partnership.
Hoopstars teamed up with Sole Ballers; a group that collects gently used athletic shoes to give to kids from low-income families.
More than 500 pairs of shoes have been donated since Sole Ballers was started by Christian Life high school sophomore Treye Tucker when he was just in the 7th grade.
“My mom told me stories because she works for the Rockford Public Schools district, about some kids that were less fortunate,” said Tucker. “And I just helped them out, and that’s really where the idea took off.”
This year they added two more courts to accommodate the more than 300 kids participating in the event at Davis Park.
“The purpose is getting around each other and having fun,” said one participant, Jaron Martin. “And winning!”
But organizers and participants say it’s not just about the competition.
“Sports and basketball are a great way to bring kids and people together of all ages and all races,” said Senator Stadelman. “And so I think this is kind of a cool way to do that.”
Families attending the event also enjoyed live music, and rides for the kids.
All players received free commemorative event t-shirts, and the champions in each division were awarded trophies and medals.