Gus Macker funds nearly double

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament did not suffer from the sophomore jinx.

The event, held May 20-21, raised more than $19,000 in its second year, according to preliminary figures from event organizers. Also, more than 220 teams participated and there were thousands of spectators who flocked to Vernon and Second streets in downtown Ironton to watch the spectacle.

Last year — it’s inaugural year — the event raised about $10,000 and had 177 teams participating.

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“This year was another success. It was just a really great time,” said Jody Rowe-Collins, one of the organizers of the event. “The weather was great and it was a good, wholesome time for everybody involved.”

Joyce Lynd, also an organizer, said, “You almost had to be there to experience it.”

All of the money raised during Gus Macker goes to the Friends of Ironton, a grassroots civic improvement group that donates money to a number of community organizations. They have recently purchased bulletproof vests for the Ironton Police Department and bleachers from the Ironton Little League.

Not only did the Friends raise money for their causes, Ironton businesses also had financial gains, Rowe-Collins said. Every type of local business, from convenience stores and discount stores to carry outs and grocery stores, reaped some benefits, she said. But, the exact dollar amount cannot be measured.

“With the volume of people and the traffic that we had coming through here, it’s hard to tell what kind of money that our local community made,” Lynd said.

The tournament is guaranteed to be in town at least one more year — the Friends have a three-year contract. The future of the tourney is unclear, but the Macker organization has made no indication that it plans to pull the event out of the city any time in the near future.

“There is no reason not to continue it,” Rowe-Collins said. “We have a good, dedicated committee that’s willing to work hard to put this on.”

She said her group as well as a number of organizations, officials and groups are willing to step up to do whatever it takes to keep Macker here every summer.