July 15, 2010 7:55:00 AM
Ernest Robinson knows the importance of teamwork.
As store manager at the Walmart in Columbus, Robinson realizes communication and coordination are two keys to helping any business or organization run smoothly.
Robinson also knows the importance of giving back to the community. He hopes an idea that he has helped plan for the past four months will help people in the area come together.
Beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, eight local men''s basketball teams will compete at Caledonia High School as part of Robinson''s Hoops for Troops Basketball Tournament. The event is a fundraiser for the Family Readiness Group fund that supports the families of members of the Battery A Second of the 114th Strike, a local unit from Columbus. The unit has been deployed to Iraq two times.
"We wanted to reach out to those guys and do something for their families," Robinson said. "When I found out about the FRG, I said, ''Cool, let''s have a basketball tournament.'' "
Robinson said his goal is to raise $5,000 for the fund. So far, he said there has been a lot of excitement and interest about the event. He feels it will be something that will provide excitement and a rallying point for people in Lowndes County.
Robinson said there will be giveaways and door prizes for fans who attend the event. He said the items that will be available, including a grill and a $25 gift card, show how committed Walmart is to being a valuable part of Lowndes County.
The double-elimination tournament will feature at least one team of high school-aged players from Immanuel Christian. The games will have two 12-minute halves. The championship game is expected to start at 7:30 p.m. Trophies will be awarded to the first- and second-place teams.
Caledonia High boys basketball coach Josh Scott will be on hand to take tickets and to provide support. He said he and Caledonia High were more than willing to be a part of the fundraiser.
"(Candi Blaylock) called me in the spring and told me what they had going on and asked if they could use the facility," Scott said. "It wasn''t a difficult process. Everyone seems to be really excited. I think there has been real good reception based on the number of questions people have asked me about the event. We''re looking forward to a good turnout and a good amount of proceeds for the troops. It looks like it is going to be a good day."
Tickets are $2 for adults and $1 for children. There will be food available at the concession stand, as well as an opportunity for someone to participate in a free-throw shooting contest for the gift card.
Blaylock, an invoice clerk at Walmart, has a son in law, Chris Pumphrey, who is a member of the National Guard in Columbus. She has worked with Robinson to organize the event and to coordinate the "tremendous response" she has seen from the community.
"We have been planning this since March," Blaylock said. "We have a lot of people interested and a lot of people supporting our local National Guard. This is the first one, but our store manager wants to make it an annual event."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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