Harlem Wizards charm huge crowd at local fundraiser basketball game

The Harlem Wizards came to town and cast a spell on the large crowd in attendance at the Lamar Community Building on April 25, 2024.  Most of the reserved and general admission seats were filled as well as a good portion of the bleachers on the opposite side.  The Wizards worked their magic for well over 2 hours, keeping the crowd not only spellbound by their athletic abilities but rendering them unable to resist laughing, clapping, singing and dancing along with the antics they provided.  Proving a worthy match-up for the Wizards were the “Southeast Colorado Roadrunners”, a team comprised of local teachers, coaches and other volunteers who had basketball skills and some of their own tricks up their sleeves.  The event was a fundraiser sponsored by the Southeast Colorado Shrine Club.

Above: The Southeast Colorado Roadrunners team

The night started with Steven Schmidt, Club President, welcoming the crowd and explaining a bit of how the Shriners provide financial help for children needing medical care, which comes at no cost to families.  He introduced one such recipient of medical care provided at Shriners Hospital and presented him with a basketball signed by the Wizards.  He then introduced and thanked Club member Kevin  Sharrar for his hard work in making the event possible, saying “This is all his doing.”  He then presented Mr. Sharrar with an autographed ball as well.  Also present for the introduction was Club Vice President Travis Walker.

Above, L-R: Kevin Sharrar, Steven Schmidt and Travis Walker

Several local young aspiring basketball players, donning replica jerseys proclaiming them as “Wiz Kids” were invited onto the court before the game to participate in warm-up drills with several of the Wizards and were able to show off their own dribbling, layups and other skills to the crowd.  The game started after both teams were introduced and the crowd got energized by the Wizards announcer.  The score stayed close throughout the first half, with both teams showing off their moves.  Frequently, the game was interrupted by spontaneous bursts of comedy from the Wizards.  A “brief” halftime break, during which the Wizards were available to sign autographs, was anything but brief, due to the vast number of kids and adults on the court clamoring for autographs from all the players.  Shirts, basketballs, headbands, hats, shoes, photos and basically anything that could be written on were on the receiving end of the players’ Sharpies (even a bare arm or two).  The game announcer finally told the crowd on the court that autographs would continue after the game but that the game needed to resume.

Above, “Wiz Kid” Ryan and Wizards player “Giant”

Throughout the game, the Wizards delighted the crowd with their own brand of basketball comedy.  Skits were numerous.  “Name that Tune” saw a local family brought to center court with a chance to win an autographed basketball if they could name the songs correctly (which they did to the delight of their young son).  A Wizard player “borrowed” the handbag of an audience member, who had to also go to center court and participate in a dance with a Wizard player to have it returned.  Everyone the Wizards involved in their teasing were good sports and played along to the delight of the crowd.

Interspersed with comedy, dancing and music was the actual basketball game.  The crowd delighted to trick shots, slam dunks and fancy ball-handling.  Not to be outdone, the Home Team provided a few slam dunks and some unexpected defensive moves, proving they had some serious basketball skills.  Above all, they proved that they were good sports by putting up with all the shenanigans the Wizards had to offer.

Above: “Giant” protests the height disparity between himself and Lamar Parks and Recreation Director Anthony LaTour for the tipoff

Above:  Both teams posed with the “Wiz Kids” for a final photo

I spoke with Kevin Sharrar after the event and he expressed his thanks, saying “I’d like to give special thanks to everyone at the Community Building, especially Anthony and Kendra.  Thank you to the community and all our sponsors for supporting us so well.  Big thank you to the local Lions clubs for helping put this together.  Also, special thanks to the teachers, coaches, referees, and others who volunteered to play.”   If you see Kevin around town, give him a pat on the back for making this event happen!

It’s safe to say that everyone in attendance had a great time, the Shriners charity made a sizeable amount of money to be put to good use and a lot of really exhausted kids went home ready to fall into bed and dream about being a basketball player.  I’m guessing our 6-year-old grandson wasn’t the only Wiz Kid who slept in his jersey that night!

By Barbara Crimond – all photos by Barbara Crimond

Filed Under: CharityEntertainmentFeaturedSportsYouth


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