Game-changing play

A fifth grade student hit the proverbial 3-pointer with his effort to help the humanitarian effort in Haiti last month.

In an effort to help raise money for victims of the January earthquake in Haiti, a St. Gregory's boy's school student rallied his friends and teammates to raise money for a good cause.

Leland Ben, a fifth grader at the Colonie school, said raising money for Haiti is a great way to do a good deed, as well as supporting missionary work from a former St. Gregory's priest.

Ben organized a Thursday, Jan. 28 basketball game among fourth and fifth grade students to help draw a crowd to his fundraiser. He took donations in addition to selling snacks at the game.

The fifth graders fell to the fourth graders 19-17 in a close match, but those were not the only numbers that mattered.

An hour before the game, and during the match-up, Ben sold treats at outside the gym to help raise money for the victims. He said a former priest from the school was working to help with the humanitarian effort and he wanted to support him as well.

"The donations will be sent to Capuchin Friars, an order of priests located in Puerto Rico, who have a mission in Haiti. Our church's retired priest, Father Lloyd Rebero is there working with them," Ben said.

Ben and other volunteers sold pizza, drinks, chips, cupcakes, popcorn, cookies and other treats throughout the game helping to bring in thousands of dollars, with more donations to come.

As a result of the fundraiser others added a touch of their own generosity and offered to match what Ben raised.

"My event raised $1,156 by the end of the night, with three parents pledging that they would match whatever funds were raised by the end of the evening. With those pledges, the event has raised approximately $4,300, and still counting" according to an email he sent after the game.

Ben touted a big crowd with some notable guests including players from the Siena basketball program who also made donations.

"It was a great game and a full house. I could not have done it by myself and I am grateful for my fellow 5th grade teammates, the 4th grade team, and their good sportsmanship, our coaches, our parents and the entire Saint Gregory's community of generous parents, students and teachers," he wrote.


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