Hoops Fest 2002 a slam dunk

Basketballs swarmed around the hoop like so many swallows looking for a place to roost.

The 75 ball players, who sent the multitude of balls careening toward the backboard, were warming up for the seventh annual Hoops Fest at Hylton High School in Dale City on Wednesday night.

The annual rite of spring, sponsored by the Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger, attracts county basketball players who loan their talent to raise money for a worthy cause and maybe to win a trophy.

This year more than 1,800 community members attended Hoops Fest and contributed a record-breaking $9,284 to help Marvin and Ruth Scott, of Winchester, whose daughter Kierston suffers from a rare disease called 13q Deletion Syndrome.

The Prince William Police Department raised more than $6,500 for the Scotts and Kierston as well.

Prince William Police Captain Ray Colgan said everyone in the department donated money to the cause including the recruits at the police academy.

“They had a car wash and raised $1,500,” Colgan said.

Kierston, now 12, was born missing a chromosome, causing severe physical and mental birth defects. Kierston weighs 25 pounds, functions cognitively as a 6-month-old and eats only soft food.

When Kierston was born, no one expected her to leave the hospital, but she lived. And now her survival depends on surgery to straighten her badly curved spine that presses against her heart.

Her father thanked those packed into the high school gymnasium during a break in the event.

“The number of people who responded in so many kind ways has overwhelmed me and my family,” said Scott, a former Hylton High School basketball coach.

“The monetary gifts that have been provided to Kierston give us the opportunity to choose the hospital that we are comfortable with. The procedures, which Kierston must undergo, are delicate,” Scott said as he stood with his family in the middle of the basketball court.

“It’s comforting to know that there will be many praying for a successful outcome and speedy recovery. Again, my family and I are extremely grateful to all of you,” Scott concluded as the place erupted in applause.

Alvin Parson, a four-year veteran spectator of Hoops Fest, arrived at Hylton High School two hours early so he would be sure to get a good seat.

Parson, of Forest Park High School, said he would continue to attend future Hoops Fests, even after he graduates.

“I think it’s great for the kids to come out here for something to do and I think it’s good that all the money is going to the [Scott] family,” Parson said, “It’s a nice thing to do for somebody. Give them some hope.”

Prince William Police Sgt. Rich Cundif volunteered to work the Hoops Fest assignment and said the job maxed out his fun meter.

“Everything else pales in comparison to this,” Cundif said as he watched the high school basketball players warm up.

“It’s inspiring to see all these people turn out. It makes you feel good about the community,” Cundif said.

Staff writer Keith Walker can be reached at (703) 878-8063.

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