Veeder Elementary School teacher Matt Tarullo looks for a teammate to pass the ball to during last Friday’s Amy Tisa Memorial Basketball Game.
Photo by Rob Jonas.
COLONIE John Aidala has volunteered at the Amy Tisa Memorial Basketball Game as its scorekeeper since it started in 2008. He never thought he and his family would one day be selected to receive funds from it.
“I’ve seen other people over the years go up at halftime and speak to the crowd,” said Aidala, who was on the sidelines again at this year’s game March 7 at Colonie Central High School. “I never envisioned in a hundred years I’d be grabbing the microphone.”
Shara Barcomb never heard of the South Colonie Central School District’s annual charity basketball game between Veeder and Shaker Road elementary schools until her family was chosen to be the other recipient of this year’s proceeds.
“This is our first year at Veeder,” said Barcomb, a 25-year-old single mother of twin girls. “Both of my girls just entered kindergarten this year.”
The common thread Barcomb and Aidala share is cancer. Aidala lost his wife last year to the disease, while Barcomb is battling it.
“It’s just very surreal,” said Aidala. “I’m at 10 months since I lost my wife. If the game was held in March last year as it normally has been, she would have been here helping out. But because they had to push the game back a couple of months, she died before the game happened.”
While Aidala spoke to the crowd, Barcomb – who was visibly in pain from the surgery that removed her breast cancer – had her mother speak for her.
“It’s been rough,” said Barcomb. “I went through the double mastectomy … and gone through some reconstructive surgery. I just take it one day at a time.”
The Amy Tisa Memorial Basketball Game was named after a Veeder teacher who died from a brain aneurysm several years ago. Event co-organizer Erica Doran said after the initial game benefited Tisa’s family, it was decided the event would continue to benefit any family at the school that suffered a tragedy. Originally one family from Veeder was selected to receive the proceeds, but when the format changed from a game against the Colonie Police department to a game against Shaker Road staff, a family from Shaker Road was chosen to share in the proceeds.