‘Charity’ Stripe

Card, Trojans Taking Part In Hoops For Hearts Campaign

Inspired by the story of local first-grader Elianna Vazquez, Alex Card and the Southwestern Trojans are raising money to donate toward pediatric cardiac research at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Golisano Children’s Hospital. P-J photo by Scott Reagle

Through the first nine games of the boys basketball season, the Southwestern Trojans already boast an impressive resume.

Coach Aaron Emley’s team sits at 7-2 during the first week of the 2019, with their only blemishes coming against Class AA Jamestown in the opening game of the season and a Dec. 19 loss to Fredonia.

On Dec. 28, the Trojans showed their merit with a tight 50-48 Randolph Holiday Tournament win over the host Cardinals, then ranked as the No. 11 team in Class C according to the New York State Sportswriters Association.

Regardless of how this season comes to an end for Southwestern, the team will also have achieved success within the community as well.

Led by the efforts of senior Alex Card, the Trojans are participating in a Hoops For Hearts campaign.

Elianna Vazquez

Inspired by the story of Elianna Vazquez, a local first-grader who suffers from a congenital heart condition, two weeks prior to the season Card came up with the idea to host a campaign on pledgeit.org/swhoopsforhearts that will donate funds for every free throw that is made at home games.

Card first became aware of Elianna’s condition and her need for a heart transplant through his mother Lisa, who spends time during the school week teaching Vazquez via Facetime, as her condition does not allow her to attend school currently.

“I walked downstairs one day and saw that my mom was Facetiming a little girl. She introduced me and we talked for a little bit,” Card said. “After I was done talking to Elianna my mom started to tell me about her story a little bit, then she got me a shirt and a bracelet that say ‘Elianna Vazquez Strong’.”

While Card wears that bracelet every day and the shirt as often as he can, the senior also wanted to do more to help after hearing Elianna’s story.

After finishing off a truly special year on the gridiron for the Trojans, Card came up with a plan to raise money during the basketball season that will be donated toward pediatric cardiac research at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Golisano Children’s Hospital.

“My mom and I thought of the idea and then I talked to coach Emley about what kind of stat that we wanted to have donations for. We came up with free throws for home games and then talked to the team about it and they were all on board,” Card said.

“You can either donate a set amount, however much you want, or you can pledge a certain amount for every free throw made at home games.”

For Emley and his team, Card’s charitable endeavor has not come as a surprise.

The Trojans basketball team has already gotten involved in a variety of community projects and fundraisers, such as the annual Amy King 5K Run/Walk, with Card often leading the way forward for his teammates.

“Alex is just a great all-around kid,” Emley said. “He’s always looking to do things for our school and through National Honor Society. When he came to me about the free throw thing it wasn’t something that shocked me because it seems like he’s always doing those types of things. It’s just the kind of person he is.”

Looking back on what he finds so inspiring about Elianna’s story, the thing that Card remembered most was her attitude in the face of adversity.

“Just talking to her on Facetime I saw that she was pushing right through her struggles,” he said. “She was smiling and it really inspired me to get through the things that I go through.”

Southwestern has seven regular-season home games remaining this winter with its next coming Friday against Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 1 West opponent Frewsburg.

Interested parties are encouraged to visit pledgeit.org/swhoopsforhearts and contribute to the campaign.