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The Hoopla ticket program — a community outreach effort to boost the NCAA First Four games in Dayton — got a big boost last year when several NBA players stepped up with financial support.
Launched by the First Four Local Organizing Committee prior to the 2012 Tournament, each ticket purchased as part of the Hoopla Ticket Program is donated to Airmen stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base or local STEM and/or underprivileged students. With support from more than 150 Hoopla sponsors, the committee has overseen more than 10,000 ticket donations, including 4,500 in 2014.
Donations from NBA players Kent Bazemore, Brian Roberts and Chris Johnson helped buy more tickets, but just as important they provided national visibility for the Hoopla program.
Bazemore is playing for the Atlanta Hawks, Roberts is playing for the Charlotte Hornets, and Chris Johnson has played for the Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz this season.
Here’s a look at why these pros adopted the First Four in Dayton.
Q: How did you first get involved with The Big Hoopla and sponsoring students and military with tickets to the NCAA First Four?
A: Roberts: Matt (Farrell) has kept me in the loop over the last few years on everything in Dayton around the First Four. It started with the 2013 sellout and then last year when he was telling me about the Hoopla Ticket Program, I knew it was something we wanted to be part of sponsoring.
A: Bazemore: Giving back is something I pride myself in and my financial advisor (Corey Callahan of Callahan Financial Management Group LLC) and I continually discuss different opportunities to give back. After being introduced to Matt (Farrell) around this time last year, I realized The Big Hoopla stood for a great cause and I was more than happy to be involved.
A: Johnson: Last year when I was with the Celtics, Matt Farrell and Dan Fox reached out to me and told me about the Big Hoopla and everything they were doing with the NCAA First Four. I thought it sounded like a great event and wanted to get involved anyway I could.
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