Camp Anchor volunteers honored at Adelphi University gymnasium
They say the hardest thing in life is to lose a child. One cannot imagine the pain, especially when the children being lost were everything you could hope them to grow up to be, as were Jamie Malone, Paige Malone, and Michael Mulhall, who were lost in a fatal car accident on their way to work at Camp ANCHOR (Answering the Needs of Citizens with Handicaps through Organized Recreation), a camp for Long Island’s special needs individuals. For the father of Jamie and Paige, longtime Garden City High School guidance counselor Jim Malone, the Saturday, July 28 was “bittersweet,” as Adelphi University’s gymnasium filled up at 1 p.m. for the second annual Malone Mulhall Benefit Game that was held in honor of the three young Floral Park residents.
“It’s a wonderful event, but it reminds us why we’re all here,” said Malone.
Despite the obvious mixed feelings experienced by the audience during the event, those who knew Jamie, Paige, and Michael would agree that the setting to honor them was just right.
“Basketball was always a big part of their lives so it’s a great way to honor them,” said event founder Joe Lynch.
Lynch is not only the creator of the benefit game but also a friend of the Malone sisters and Mulhall. In fact, all the staff for the event were friends of the three young volunteers.
“We’d like to all thank the families for giving their blessing to do this event again,” said Conor McKeown. “It means a lot as friends of Jamie, Paige, and Michael to be here to put together this event.”
The organizers of this event certainly did a great job of putting together the benefit game as every seat in the Adelphi gymnasium was filled to watch players such as San Antonio Spur Danny Green, former Notre Dame player Tyrone Nash, Milwaukee Buck Vernon Goodridge, and many other professionals play a competitive game of basketball for a great cause.
“I did the event the first year because I knew Joe (Lynch) since we went to the same high school,” said Green. “It was such a tragic accident and if something as simple as playing basketball could help, why wouldn’t I?”
Even the celebrity coaches of the event should have been some familiar faces to basketball fans: NBA Hall of Famer Chris Mullin and Knicks announcer Mike Breen.
“It’s a really emotional situation,” said Mullin. “I’m happy it worked out schedule-wise so I could be here. These kids were everything you would want them to be. It’s truly heartwarming to be here.”
The festivities began with a three-point shootout, which featured three players shooting one round with 65 seconds on the clock. Each shot made was worth one point and the last ball on each rack was a money ball, meaning it was worth two points. The participants included Andrew Beinert, Green and last year’s winner, Jeff Xavier. At the end of the competition Green and Xavier were named co-winners of the shootout after Green’s final shot at the buzzer was waived off.
The event continued with the dunk contest, which featured two rounds and two competitors. The participants this year were last year’s winner Paris Horne and Goodridge. Judges for the event included Breen and Mullin as well as siblings of the Malones and Mulhalls, Carrie Mulhall, Grace Mulhall, and Daphne Malone. The judges decided after two rounds of competition that Goodridge was the new king of the dunk competition as he edged out Horne with a score of 106-105.
After the dunk contest, it was finally time to start the Malone Mulhall Benefit All Star Game. The two halves each lasted a total of twenty minutes. By the time the final buzzer rang, Mullin had led his Red ‘Dream Team’ to a 114-104 victory. Despite all the dunks, three-pointers, and alley oops that were given during the game, the loudest ovation of the day easily came during halftime as Camp Anchor’s Dazzling Dance Team performed to “I’m Glad You Came.”
“If there’s one thing I want people to get out of this event, it’s for them to learn about Camp Anchor—to bring Camp Anchor to the forefront,” said Malone. “Last year’s halftime show they performed was so heartwarming.”
As the day finally reached its conclusion, it appeared all went well for the family and friends of the Malones and Mulhalls.
“The event went great,” said Lynch. “There was a sold-out crowd and everyone had a great time, which is all I could really ask for.”
“There’s nowhere in Long Island where you can see a basketball event like this,” agreed Malone.
At the end of the day, the event proved something far bigger than the game of basketball.
“I’m sure today will bring back tough memories,” said Green. “But hopefully it brings more happiness than anything else. It’s important to look at everything in a different light and see who’s out there to help and support you.”