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Shooting hoops for hope

Shanice Maxwell | 10/31/2012, 8:25 a.m.
Brothers take a stand against breast cancer Score 4 More Inc. lead organizers take...
Players from the 45 and up “old school” squad stop for a quick huddle to discuss strategies before the game’s second half begins at the Score 4 More Second Annual Charity Basketball Game and Health Expo last Saturday. Bryan Trench

Brothers take a stand against breast cancer

Score 4 More Inc. lead organizers take a break from welcoming participants for a quick photo. (L to R) Roger Roberts, Marlon Benjamin, Deronne Greaves, Ray Noiles and Clayton Weston.

Either the forecast was wrong or Mother Nature simply had her own plans. But instead of the gloomy fall day predicted for last Saturday, the sun managed to make its presence felt just in time for the start of Score 4 More Inc.’s Second Annual Charity Basketball Game and Health Expo.

In light of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the event’s focus was to educate community members about the hard-hitting disease. The Centers for Disease Control reports that in 2008 — the most recent year numbers were available — black women had the second-highest rate of breast cancer diagnoses and were more likely to die of the disease than any other ethnic group.

Though breast cancer primarily affects women, the founders of Score 4 More — a group of five men — created the event because breast cancer hits close to home for many of them.

“I had an aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer about 15 years ago,” said Marlon Benjamin, Score 4 More co-founder and director. “I was pretty naïve at the time of the effects of it, but it wasn’t too long after that [that] a friend of mine’s mother passed away from it.

“I saw what it did to him, making me realize how close to home it was for me. After that, a couple of other guys in the basketball community were affected too — whether it was their grandmothers, mothers or aunts — so last year we decided we needed to do something about this.”

Their answer: A celebratory and fun event where knowledge could be shared. The reaction: Seeing a group of men passionate about something that harms women was refreshing and rewarding.

“A lot of women get degraded now, so [it’s] a good thing for men to pay attention to women and treat them with love,” said Rene Castro, 18, of Dorchester.

“[This] breaks a lot of stereotypes,” said Rufus Faulk, 30, of Roxbury. “We have people from our neighborhoods taking the initiative to address issues that have been plaguing our neighborhoods.”

As roughly 200 community members made their way to Madison Park Community Center’s gym, smiling Score 4 More organizers and clusters of pink and white balloons greeted them.

The words “hope,” “faith,” and “support” decorated the backs of all who wore shirts endorsing the event’s cause. Once inside, groups crowded around the information tables picking up pamphlets and discussing preventative methods. Others reached for their wallets to make donations and buy t-shirts and wristbands etched with the famed pink ribbon and slogans of support. Players exchanged witty remarks and shared laughs both on and off the floor as an air of friendly competition took hold.

Fifty-eight players, five of whom were women, volunteered their time and talent to play in one of Saturday’s three afternoon games: An “old school” game for players 45 and older, a high school game featuring Boston Public School students and a game for “local celebrities,” Benjamin stated.

Score 4 More reached its fundraising goal of $1,000, which will go to Massachusetts General Hospital’s Breast Cancer Research Fund.

Saturday marked the second year this event took place so information about the disease could be passed on and the lives of all directly affected could be commemorated.

“I played today because my grandmother, my dad’s mom, died from breast cancer and so did my aunt,” said Donnaizha Fountain, 17, of Roxbury. “I just wanted to give back. I also want people to get more involved. People just [played] to have fun today, but this [event] is bigger than that.”