KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- The Tennessee men's and women's basketball teams participated in the game they love Saturday morning at Farragut High School. For the fifth-consecutive season, they celebrated that love of the game with youngsters from the Down Syndrome Awareness Group of East Tennessee at Hoops For Hope.
Started as a Boy Scout project by Trey Sexton to make dreams come true for parents and children of the DSAG of East Tennessee, Hoops For Hope has become an annual event that Big Orange round-ballers and their coaches look forward to as much as the youths whom they cheer and play alongside in organized games.
While Trey Sexton is away on a two-year mission trip, his father, David Sexton, said the torch has been passed to Trey's sister, Allie. She coordinated this year's event, and the roar of the crowd and the smiles on everyone's faces signaled that year five was another rousing success.
"It makes me feel really proud as a dad, because you try to teach your kids that if you desire to do good things, then there will be support for you to do that," David Sexton said. "So, it's awesome for us to see that we have the support of UT and the Down Syndrome Awareness Group to make this happen. It benefits not only them (DSAG), but everyone who is here at the event.
"I think it's really neat to see that these athletes who are so dedicated to a sport and have so much invested in that will take the time out from their athletic endeavors to come and support the community in a really simple, but powerful, way."
UT Head Women's Basketball Coach Holly Warlick enjoys seeing the response of the participants, both from DSAG and the teams.
"My favorite thing about this event is to see these young people have a smile on their faces," Warlick said. "They are having fun, enjoying themselves and they are playing with people they look up to on the men's and women's basketball teams.
"The athletes absolutely love it, too. They love to be around these kids and coming to this event. It's wonderful for our programs to once again be a part of it."
Vol junior Trae Golden said the event is very special to him and his teammates, because they have built relationships through the event.
"It's huge, because we come back and see the same people and how much they've grown and how much they love basketball," Golden said. "It's a great thing to give back to the community, and we couldn't be happier to be here."
"We play basketball every day, and we sometimes start to take it for granted. These guys - they score and are so excited. It's just great to see their enthusiasm."