Plattsburgh State’s Club Caribbean took over the Memorial Hall basketball courts for their third annual For the Love of Basketball tournament on Feb. 10, established in memory of former PSUC student Kodi K. Beckles. A $1 donation was required from players and spectators, and all proceeds went to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation of the North Country.
In an autopsy performed at Albany Medical Center, Beckles, who had epilepsy, experienced a “cardiorespiratory arrest due to a seizure disorder” after disappearing from a late-night party in the spring of 2014.
Because Beckles loved basketball, the club created the tournament not only to raise money for a good cause, but also in memoriam of their former club member.
About 50 PSUC students were in attendance to support the cause. Six teams of about 10 competitors played a series of knock-out games throughout the evening.
In addition to the tournament, Club Caribbean organized a table dedicated to epilepsy awareness with a local Plattsburgh representative from the Epilepsy Foundation. The club also arranged trivia questions and prizes, photo sessions and a performance from JEDI dance members between games.
Club Caribbean President Gauran McKenzie expressed his support of the tournament.
“People seem to like this kind of stuff because it’s for a good cause and [Beckles] was a good kid,” McKenzie said.
Vice President and Event Planner Raven Cunningham and Treasurer Levar Frances were eager to help organize the event for Club Caribbean.
“This is our club’s way of putting together a memorial for [Beckles],” Cunningham said. “It’s us carrying the torch annually every spring semester since Kodi passed away.”
Frances said the club raised around $300 at last year’s tournament. This year, the club raised $176 for the foundation.
“Doing [the tournament] again this time around, it still feels the same way,” Frances said. “It feels good and hopeful to know that you can do something like this, collaborating with the Epilepsy Foundation and having this impact on campus.”
“This was a very intriguing experience,” Cunningham said. “Not only is it a memorial, it’s also our organization raising money for a very sad and unfortunate cause.”
McKenzie acted as the DJ for last year’s club tournament, then just a club member. Now as president, McKenzie is glad to continue the tradition.
“I’m really happy to be a part of this,” McKenzie said.
“I came [to Club Caribbean] and heard about the tournament, and I really liked the idea as a way to remember him.”
Cunningham expressed her drive to continue organizing fundraising events from Club Caribbean and the campus community.
“We didn’t have to wait for Kodi to pass away to do something like this,” Cunningham said. “As long as I’m a part of Club Caribbean, I want to do other fundraisers like this.”
Frances described how the event combined different aspects of the tournament into one common goal for a good cause. “It brings everything together,” Frances said. “[It involves] keeping people informed about something that happened, keeping people informed about a disease that’s prevalent, and keeping people entertained and interacted all at once.”
Club Caribbean’s For the Love of Basketball tournament will continue to be held in honor of Beckles for as many years as the club sees fit.
Email Emma Vallelunga at news@cardinalpointsonline.