Aurora teen spearheads $4,000 fundraiser for University Hospitals Rainbow Babies

Bob Gaetjens
Record-Courier
Carmen Courtad of Aurora, a sophomore at Hawken School, organized a drive that raised $4,000 for UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital.

The last four games of Hawken School’s girls basketball season resulted in wins, but not just for the team. 

During the final four games, the team’s “Hoops for Hope” fundraiser raised $4,000 for University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, and the drive was spearheaded by sophomore Carmen Courtad, an Auroran.

The team found sponsors for the number of points they scored in the final four games of the season, she explained. 

“Everyone just kind of put in some effort, and it all collectively came together,” she said. “I think we had 70 sponsors. A lot of those were flat rates for individual points or team points.”

She said most of the varsity team participated in “Hoops for Hope.”

Carmen was modest about her role organizing the fundraising drive, but Hawken Head Girls Basketball Coach David Murray said she deserves the credit for the idea and its execution.

“Carmen started off shooting me a message, saying ‘This is what I wants to do,’ and she basically did  it all by herself,” he said.

 Murray said the fundraiser capped a strong season for the team, which went 14-3 in the regular season. 

“We were on a winning streak; I think we won 12 in a row,” he said. “It was kind of nice those last four games.”

He said the team cut down the nets after winning their first sectional title since 2014 the same night the “Hoops for Hope” fundraising total was announced.

“It was neat being part of that and to see the girls being part of that,” he said. 

Melanie Courtad, Carmen’s mother, said other parents liked the fundraiser. 

“They said this is something the Hawken Basketball Team should continue in the future,” said Melanie. “It was a good name; it was catchy, and it caught on and got people going.”

Melanie said she was also pleased that the team successfully accounted for the donations by spreadsheet. 

“She’s good at math,” she said of her daughter. “I think they got it all together within one week. It was actually pretty impressive how quickly they got it together.”

With more time, she said she thought the team could have raised even more money, but the uncertainty of the season made that difficult. 

Carmen said “Hoops for Hope” came about because a regular fundraiser involving free throws and more players wasn’t able to take place.

“Since the pandemic was happening, it was going to be hard to get a lot of people in the gym to do free throws,” she said. 

Murray said the regular season usually starts around Thanksgiving, and the team usually does a fundraiser or drive around that time.

“In terms of what we try to do, all of our coaches believe that service beyond basketball is even more important,” he said.

Carmen said she chose to give money to UH because the hospital provides the school with trainers and seemed like a good place to donate to, given fight against COVID-19.

“I thought it would be nice and easy to sponsor them since Hawken already had that connection,” said Carmen. 

Jenna Delost, a development coordinator for University Hospitals, said the money would be used for whatever the administration decides is the most dire need.

"In Carmen's case, she didn't really have a dedicated area she felt strongly about supporting, so those are unrestricted funds and are usually used to fund the highest need," said Delost, adding there are usually a handful for student- or school-driven fundraisers throughout the UH system each year. 

Carmen said she feels like a four-game fundraiser felt like it worked well. Next year, she said the team could take a fresh look at who to raise money for. 

“I feel like it kind of depends on where we are with the pandemic,” she said. “I want to help who needs help the most and put my attention where it’s needed most.”

Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at bgaetjens@recordpub.com and @bobgaetjens_rc.