KINGDOM CITY, Mo. — The North Callaway Thunderbirds girls basketball team will play with extra heart Thursday.
Thursday's game versus Silex is the team's fourth annual charity game. This year, the charitable cause is a personal one for North Callaway School District.
The game starts at 6 p.m. with two quarters of junior varsity basketball, followed by a full varsity game.
"Last year, we raised money for a young lady who was trying to get a service dog, and the year before the recipient was at St. Jude Children's Hospital," said Morgan Beamer, girls basketball head coach. "I always let the girls choose who they'd like to raise money for. This year, since we have students in the district suffering from cancer, the choice was easy."
Funds raised during the event will go to the families of North Callaway students Wyatt Salmons and Nathaniel Wimmer, both of whom are 12 years old and battling brain cancer.
Wimmer has medulloblastoma, and Salmons is fighting diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.
"Childhood cancer has hit our small district directly," Beamer said. "When I asked (my players), there was no hesitation. They immediately said childhood cancer. What better cause than helping someone in our own district who's going through a rough time right now?"
She said the team hopes to raise at least $1,000.
"If we can raise more, that'd be absolutely wonderful," Beamer added. "Last year, we were able to give a family about $1,500 toward a service dog."
Part of the money is coming through T-shirt sales. The team partnered with Auxvasse-based One Stop Custom to design shirts commemorating the event.
"Morgan and her team did all the work — we just put it together," said Mitchell Jenkins, sales rep at One Stop Custom. "I've known Morgan for years, so when she reached out to us, we said, 'Yes, absolutely.'"
He said OSC owners Chris and Sarah Moore love supporting the community.
"Any time we can give back to the community is a good thing," Jenkins said. "As a small business, we're part of the community, so any time people ask us for help we want to do what we can."
Online shirt sales officially closed Monday afternoon, with around 100 shirts sold. Jenkins said the shop is happy to continue printing shirts through the end of the week. Email [email protected] to order a shirt.
The rest of the fundraising will happen during Thursday evening's game. Beamer is planning two half-court shot competitions: one between the two games and one at halftime. Each shot at making it through the hoop costs $1.
Additionally, team members and teachers are hard at work baking goodies for a silent auction, which will last throughout both games. Winners will be announced after the varsity game's third quarter.
"Every single one of my girls will bring in items, and community is welcome to as well," Beamer said. "It's becoming a full community event, which is very exciting."
She said she's hoping Wimmer and Salmons feel up to coming out and watching the game, but even if they don't, a number of their family members will be there.
"We really just want to make it a really positive night and get the awareness of childhood cancer out there to our community," Beamer said. "We're hoping to have a great crowd."