As one might expect, most school gyms in Morristown will be empty this Sunday afternoon; no sneakers squeaking on the floors, no sharp referee whistles, no cheering crowds in the bleachers.
But the gym at is expected to be packed.
That's because the Morris Township school will host the second annual . The event honors the memory of Gerry Reilly, a Morristown resident who died in a tragic skiing accident in 2008.
“He was just one of those guys; it’s like everybody knew him,” said Sue Clarke, a family friend who handles publicity for the event. “You know that game 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon?' There’s six degrees of the Reilly family.”
The idea for the event was inspired by the family’s love of basketball; three of the Reillys’ four children play the sport, and Gerry coached his daughter’s Junior Colonials basketball team at the time of his death. His widow, Maryann, is one of the main organizers of the Hoop-A-Thon.
“He was always active in the kids’ sports activities,” Clarke said. “He really liked coaching.”
The all-day family-friendly event will feature plenty of b-ball. “Players from each grade will be randomly divided into two teams, maroon and white,” Clarke said. “Each grade will play a coed game for about an hour, and they’ll keep a running score of maroon versus white.”
Players have been gathering sponsors in the weeks leading up to the event, with proceeds benefitting both the Special Olympics of New Jersey and the Matheny Medical and Educational Center in Peapack-Gladstone.
The action starts at 11:30 a.m. with the fourth grade game, and continues in order up through the eighth grade level.
Don’t expect many breaks in the action; the event’s halftime show will take place right after the sixth grade game and will feature a special guest.
“The halftime show will be at 3:30, right after the sixth grade plays,” Clarke said. “Mighty Mike from the Harlem Wizards basketball team is going to entertain.”
After “Mighty Mike” engages the crowd with his basketball stunts, the halftime show will continue as Gerry and Maryann Reilly’s son, Jack Reilly, who has Cerebral Palsy and epilepsy, will take the court with his Special Olympics teammates to challenge the Morristown basketball league coaches.
“They did that last year, and people really enjoyed it,” Clarke said.
Last year’s event was a success, Clarke said–about 150 children participated in the inaugural Hoop-A-Thon, raising $10,000 for Special Olympics of New Jersey.
Admission to the event is free, but attendees are welcome to make a donation at the door. Guests are invited to stop in at any time to check out the impressive athletics and entertainment.
“Spectators can come at any time,” said Clarke, “and stay as long as you want!”