Hundreds compete in ‘Hoops for Sadie’ fundraiser

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Editor's note: Hoops for Sadie raised over $20,000 for the NYU Winthrop Cancer Center for Kids where Sadie is being treated, not over $1,000 as previously reported. It was also incorrectly reported that Billie Lombardo is in eighth grade when she is in fifth. 

Nearly 400 residents competed in the Bellmore-Merrick Basketball League’s “Hoops for Sadie” tournament at Kennedy High School in Bellmore on Nov. 26. The tournament honored Sadie Freifeld, a fifth-grade student at Birch Elementary School who, for the second time, is battling a childhood cancer of the nervous system called neuroblastoma.

“I can’t think of anyone in the community who I haven’t here today,” said Sadie’s mother Beth. “Seeing this support is amazing.”

Sadie was first diagnosed when she was 3 and, after treatment, went into remission for almost six years until she was diagnosed again in March. Since her first diagnosis, the Freifeld family has been actively contributing to and holding fundraisers for cancer research.

“Hoops for Sadie,” however, was pioneered by Susan Lombardo, whose daughter Billie, an eighth-grade student at Shore Road Elementary School, has been Sadie’s closest friend since both girls were two years old. “We’re battling this as a community,” Lombardo said.

She brought her idea to BMBB, of which Sadie and her brother Max, a ninth-grade student at Kennedy High School, were been members, and the organization immediately began working on hosting the tournament.

Over 50 local businesses and families sponsored the event, including Bagel Boss of Merrick, Dennys of Bellmore, Precision Pharmacy, Coleman Country Day Camp, Our Best Wishes, Sufiya’s Grill, Tomato and Basil Pizzeria and Sushi Ko.

“It took a small village to put this together,” said Adam Wohlleben, one of the league’s coaches, adding that this was its first large-scale tournament and fundraiser. “We’re first timers going off a lot of passion for Sadie.”

The tournament was 3-on-3 style with teams of at-most four donating $100 to play. In addition, players wore shirts that read, “Hoops for LuvSadie” and attendees were able to purchase exclusive water bottles and bracelets. The tournament raised over $20,000 for the NYU Winthrop Cancer Center for Kids where Sadie is being treated.