HANOVER, Mass. --- Once again, A Shot for Life exceeded its own expectations.
After three years of chasing, founder Mike Slonina was finally able to announce at the conclusion of the third annual A Shot for Life challenge that the organization had surpassed $100,000 in cumulative donations since its first contest in 2013. In total, Slonina stated that the event raised $41,000 this year, another high watermark after raising $27,000 in last year's event.
The A Shot for Life Challenge, which takes place annually at the University Sports Complex in Hanover to raise money for brain cancer, is a two-hour shooting exhibition that pits the top boys and girls shooters in the state of Massachusetts against once another. Shooters are required to showcase their ability from the free throw line, mid-range distance, and from behind the three-point line with. At the end of the competition the shooter with the highest percentage is crowned the best shooter in Massachusetts.
When it was all said and done, Kelly Fogarty of Walpole was crowned the best shooter in the state for the girls' division for the second straight year. She once again dominated the field, leading wire-to-wire. Most notably, Fogarty displayed her prowess from three-point range and finished with an impressive shooting percentage of 84.3.
“It was a lot of fun. You have to train a lot for it.” Fogarty said. “Then there’s also the fundraising part and I know we definitely raised a lot more money this year which is just awesome.”
Meanwhile, on the boys' side, Cambridge’s Isaiah McLeod proved to be the most prolific of the field, finishing with a shooting percentage of 87.4 for the day. McLeod was dominant from the start, hovering at or above 90 percent for most of the event.
McLeod took the opportunity not only to show off how good of a shooter he was, but also to dedicate the moment to a longtime friend, nicknamed “Sweets”, who passed away from cancer earlier this year.
“It feels great to win this thing because we had a friend who passed away from cancer so we dedicated this moment to him that’s why I have ‘Sweets’ on the back of my jersey,” McLeod stated. “Number 34 was his favorite number. We knew him our whole lives. Its like we lost one of our brothers. He meant a lot to the program. And now he’s gone. It’s a loss but we still stand strong.”
Preparation: Both Fogarty and McLeod highlighted how important constant preparation and training was in helping them win the A Shot for Life Challenge.
“I was traveling a lot for AAU which made it difficult but I shot constantly for hours at a time with my dad when I could,” Fogarty said on getting ready for the competition. ‘Towards the end I could start feeling the fatigue but you have to keep your focus which luckily I’ve learned to do.”
McLeod said that he shot for two hours before every workout leading up to the day.
“Before every workout we just continuously got shots up from the spots that I thought I was going to shoot from in this contest.” McLeod continued, “We’ve been doing this since it got announced that I would be in the contest so my arms weren’t really hurting and I felt really good shooting as it went on.”
Girls Results 3. Emma Forbes, Bishop Feehan 2. Hayley Wardwell, Cardinal Spellman 1. Kelly Fogarty, Walpole pic.twitter.com/ueMcQ9CcKe— Brendan C. Hall (@BHallESPN) August 1, 2015
Bright Future: Following the event CEO Mike Slonina expressed his joy on how the event went and how much the organization has grown in just three years.
“I thought it went really well. I thought the kids took it seriously,” said Slonina. “They did a great job fundraising. We raised $40,000 today, which is the most we have ever raised in a day. This event by year has jumped from $11,000 to $27,000 to now $40,000. The growth has been tremendous; I love all the kids in the program. Not only as shooters, but also as individuals. I couldn’t be happier with them.”
While Slonina wouldn’t list any specifics, he believes that the organization is firmly on the up rise.
“Right now we are right on the precipice of expansion far beyond this event. It’s hard, as its happening you don’t really sit back and think about it but I’m sure on the car ride home I’ll sit back and think about how far this event has come over the past few years. There’s a lot going on right now.”
And here's Jonathan Cenescar's winning dunk. pic.twitter.com/HJzTrfQP6f— Brendan C. Hall (@BHallESPN) August 1, 2015