The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 25, 2012

Marathon basketball game raises more than $100,000 for Joplin

St. Louis game claims world record

JOPLIN, Mo. — While the Kansas Jayhawks and North Carolina Tar Heels battled Sunday in the Edward Jones Dome for a chance to go the NCAA Final Four, across the street at the St. Louis Athletic Club, two other teams were making basketball history.

At 4 p.m., a record was set for the longest basketball game in history when two teams, playing continuously, reached the 107-hour mark, helping raise more than $100,000 for Joplin tornado recovery.

At 7 p.m., the time originally set to end the 110-hour basketball marathon, players were still on the court, with Team Joplin leading Team St. Louis, 11,588 to 11,506.

The marathon hoops game was the brainchild of St. Louis residents Steve Pona and Chuck Williams. In a telephone interview Sunday, Pona said the energy level was still high in St. Louis.

“Chuck Williams and I have played in two world record marathon baseball games and have raised about $250,000 for two St. Louis area charities,” he said. “When the tornado hit last year, we were immediately inspired and said, ‘We need to do another game.’ The timing worked out where the game fell right in the middle of March Madness, so we decided to play basketball.”

Dozens of businesses signed on to sponsor the event, including Adidas, Edward Jones and Wells Fargo. Pona said the final donations had not all been counted, but he knew the marathon had raised more than $100,000.

“The response from the entire country has been universal,” Pona said. “We’re not unique in being inspired by the people of Joplin and wanting to help them get back on their feet. We’re just doing a little part to help.”

The rules laid out by the Guinness Book of World Records restricted participation to 24 players divided into two teams. The event, which started at 5 a.m. Wednesday, was divided into two-hour sections in which six players from each team played while the other six rested, ate or received medical attention.

Pona said the players suffered from a wide array of maladies.

“Today we’re running on adrenaline,” he said. “We’re all suffering from cuts and bruises and nicks and things. You name it, we’re suffering from it. We’ve got guys who have lost toenails and fingernails. We’ve all had the traditional basketball injuries, but we’ve been fortunate to avoid any major injuries.”

Jeff Hafer, a former Joplin High School and University of Missouri basketball standout, had scored 3,033 points for Team Joplin shortly after 7 p.m., Pona said.

Who will benefit?

Proceeds from the event are to be distributed by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce to individuals, families and businesses who were uninsured, underinsured or ineligible for federal assistance to help pay for tornado repairs.

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