A community with rich traditions of basketball and taking care of its own will combine those passions once again next weekend in support of fallen firefighter Johnnie Jacobs’ family.
All proceeds from Hoops For a Hero, a two-day youth basketball tournament, and Battle of the Axes, a hoops showcase between the Georgetown and Scott County fire departments, will go to Jacobs’ widow, Katie, and three children, Isabella, Hunter and Sadie.
“We hope for the entire community to come out as we celebrate Johnnie and his selfless dedication to the county,” event organizer Anthony Delimpo said.
The youth tournament will take place Saturday, Feb. 29 and Sunday, March 1 at Scott County Middle School, Royal Spring Middle School and Southern Elementary.
Great Crossing High School plays host to the annual first responders’ game, which will tip off at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29.
Retired battalion chief Jacobs, 46, died Jan. 9 after a long battle with lung disease attributed to the smoke and chemicals he encountered in his years of service.
Past winter benefit games were held in support of Delimpo’s son, Levi, now in remission from cancer, and Scott County Sheriff’ deputy Jaime Morales, who was wounded in the line of duty.
“It’s all about rallying around Katie and her three children,” Delimpo said. “She’s never going to beg. She’s not really going to like any of this. She’s a very humble, proud person. But the facts are the facts. There is a great financial need.”
Admission prices to Hoops For a Hero are $7 for adults and $3 for ages 4 to 12, with children 3 and under free. Tickets to Battle of the Axes are $6 and $2, respectively.
Numerous additional fundraising activities are planned.
Commemorative T-shirts – Delimpo said about 850 remain – are available.
Raffles and a silent auction are scheduled, with a variety of autographed University of Kentucky basketball and football items among the featured attractions.
Boxes will be designated at both gates for cash or check donations above and beyond the face value of tickets.
A GoFundMe page, which as of Thursday had raised $17,900 toward its stated goal of $25,000, remains active.
“It’s an event that should really bring the community together,” Delimpo said.
Birds’ Nest Broadcasting Network, a joint production of News-Graphic and Scott County Schools, will provide live coverage of the game between the fire departments.
Local basketball fans should recognize the three celebrity referees: Scott County Judge Executive Joe Pat Covington and boys’ varsity coaches Tim Glenn of Scott County and Steve Page of Great Crossing.
KHSAA certified officials are sorely needed as volunteers for the youth tournament, however.
“We got a big boost from news coverage about a week before the game last year,” Delimpo said. “We had high school and college officials coming forward, so many that we had to turn them away. Now we’re getting down to that same time frame, and I’m getting a little nervous.”
The tournament, which is for boys’ teams from grades two through eight, remains open at all age levels. Team entry fee is $175, and there is a guarantee of three games per team. Trophies will be awarded to the top two teams in each division.
To volunteer services as an official, donate money, add a youth team to the tourney or request any additional information about the event, please contact Delimpo at (859) 230-5998.
T-shirts are $10 and may be purchased by contacting firefighter Matt Marshall at (859) 983-5441.
Kal Oakes can be reached at email@example.com.