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Tricks, hoops and alley-oops

CCA All Stars play Harlem Wizards in support of school district
Dressed in an adult-sized Harlem Wizards uniform, Cale Schares, a first-grader from North Bend Elementary, gets a lift from the Wizards during a basketball contest Thursday, Oct. 11, at CCA High School. (photo by Cale Stelken)

TIFFIN– Screams, laughter and jubilation filled the air in Tiffin Thursday night– standard fare when the Harlem Wizards come to town.
The nationally touring comedy basketball team performed at Clear Creek Amana (CCA) High School on the evening of Oct. 11, facing off against a crew of faculty collectively known as the CCA All Stars. The event was hosted by the CCA Community Schools Foundation, which is taking new initiative to support the school district and its programming.
The “Showtime Unit” of the Harlem Wizards offered a flurry of comedy and showmanship, pulling gags on their opponents and dancing with attendees in the stands. The crew mystified its CCA All Star rivals with skilled and unorthodox court antics, and while the team has gone undefeated for several years, Thursday night was no different. Texton Bollers, a third-grader from Tiffin Elementary, donned a Wizards jersey to join them for a competitive quarter before the night ended with musical chairs. A blindfold game, a raffle and a “chuck the duck” contest rounded out the night’s program. The Wizards wore pink and white to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with a portion of profits from said jerseys donated to the American Cancer Society.
Founded in 1962, the Harlem Wizards are currently in their 57th season, traveling the country and helping raising money for schools and communities. The team reached out to the CCA Community Schools Foundation last winter, which made plans to host the group following a recommendation from the Waukee Community School District. The Oct. 11 Tiffin event was one of a series of local shows for the Wizards, including stops in Williamsburg, Marion and Waukee.

A new beginning in district support

Thursday night’s event marked a new direction for the CCA Community Schools Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that supports the CCA Community School District and its programming. The foundation hopes to continue to host similar events in the future to raise awareness and support of its charitable efforts directly impacting the district. While it also hosts an annual golf tournament, the Wizards’ performance provided a more accessible, family-friendly outing unlike previous fundraising efforts. With about 750 in attendance, the decision appears to be a success, bringing in approximately $7,000.
The CCA Foundation has been around since 1980s but had been previously known for managing scholarships. Last year saw the organization take a new direction more directly emphasizing district support. As part of this initiative, a $70,000 endowment recently provided upgrades to the Amana Elementary pool.
Laurie Haman, CCA Foundation Committee Chair for the event, described the Harlem Wizards game as a kickoff to cultivating more awareness and giving back to the schools.
“More people ask ‘What is the foundation?’ That’s exactly what we need,” Haman said following the event. “We need people to understand that we have this other organization that helps support the school in different ways.”
Based on the positive response, Haman said the community might see the Wizards returning to the district in the near future. “I definitely think that it’s something that we will look at renewing and just hearing from the crowd and the emails and the feedback, so many people had so much fun, and they definitely would like to see it again.”
The CCA Foundation plans to determine where to allocate funds from the event, and will likely discuss renewing its contract with the Wizards, at the next board meeting.
“I think the foundation was just overwhelmed with the great community support, from volunteers to sponsors, and really felt it was a successful event for the entire community and school district,” Haman remarked. “CCA is such a spread-out district... it’s hard to come together as one community sometimes, and that was what was, I thought, so attractive to this.”
Those interested in getting involved with the foundation are encouraged to email ccafoundation@ccaschools.org.