Thursday night, the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic will be heading east and bringing with it one of the biggest and best crops of former Kansas basketball players ever.
Now in its 11th year of existence, Brian Hanni’s annual charity game which raises money for families of children fighting pediatric cancer, for the first time ever will be played at Eudora High.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the game is set to tip off at 7 p.m.
When it does, Hanni’s Crimson-versus-Blue scrimmage will feature more than 50 former KU greats doing battle and putting on a show that promises to deliver highlights, laughs and lots of money for families in need.
“We’re really excited to watch this game — and now this full weekend of events — continue to grow,” Hanni said while previewing this year’s event. “We’ve been so blessed over the years by the generosity of Jayhawk Nation and these KU ambassadors for giving their time and talents to come back each June. Now, with the full weekend format and our best rosters ever, we’re aiming to raise dollar amounts that will have a profound impact on these local cancer-fighting families.”
The weekend of fun includes the game on Thursday, a VIP dinner on Friday at Abe & Jake’s Landing in Lawrence and a celebrity golf tournament on Saturday at Lawrence Country Club.
Last year, the expanded format pushed the fundraising efforts into the six-figure range. And, in all, the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic website boasts a total of $412,000 raised to help more than 20 local families fighting cancer in its 10-year history.
This year’s VIP dinner and golf tournament are sold out, but tickets remain for Thursday’s game in Eudora High and can be purchased for $10 apiece at 23rd Street Brewery in Lawrence, Jersey Mike’s on Wanamaker in Topeka, AuBurn Pharmacy in Eudora and the KC Soda Company’s locations at Legends at City Market.
What began in 2009 as a way to help one Lawrence family has expanded to the point where Hanni and company pick a “Starting Five” each year and the children and their families are treated like the stars of the show throughout the game.
“That’s the best part of the night,” Hanni said. “To see those kids be celebrated and be a part of the starting lineup and run out onto the court and forget all about the hand they’ve been dealt for a couple hours is just wonderful.”
This year’s Starting Five includes 12-year-old Nicholas, 11-year-old Sergio, 10-year-old Dontez, 8-year-old Nathan and 2-year old Taylia.
Hanni said several members of past Starting Fives and their families have remained involved with the event and often attend the big game each June.
For more information on the event or to find out how you can get involved, log on to RockChalkRoundballClassic.com.
Frank Mason III
— Crimson Coaches —
Bud Stallworth (head coach)
— Blue Coaches —
Calvin Thompson (head coach)