When U19’s shooting guard, Will Cooper, first saw the Pray for Eli hashtag zipping around social media he asked a friend what had happened.

Countless afternoons shooting hoops at Belconnen Basketball Stadium and a shared love of basketball shoes created a bond between Cooper and Elijah Arranz, despite a two-year age gap. Both Ginninderra Rats juniors and St. Francis Xavier College students, the pair often spent lunchtimes trading thoughts and eBay links for the latest sneakers.

Elijah had suffered a horrific skydiving accident in Goulburn, and no one was sure what the road to recovery would look like.

“After hearing about the accident, I just wanted to do something for the family,” says Cooper. “We had been mates and I had always seen him around the stadium.”

Another of Cooper’s main motivations was to show Elijah the amount of support he had back home, to help him remain positive while recovering.

“I was coming up with ideas with my dad,” says Cooper remembering back, “we just wanted to get people all together.”

Basketball was what Cooper knew best, so he set out planning a 24-hour hoops marathon. The concept was based around 55-minute games spanning the full day and night, with breaks in play for a dunk competition and three-point shootout.

Cooper estimates over 200 players, parents, and supporters played over the course of the day, with around 40 staying the night. The event raised over 7,000 dollars for the Arranz family.

“It was so successful and people had a really good time, so a lot of the feedback was that people wanted to do it again,” says Cooper in the lead up to a second Ballin For Eli marathon, Saturday, Dec. 10.

This year money raised is headed for the Ronald McDonald House in Westmead, who have looked after Eli and his family exceptionally over the last 12 months.

Ballin For Eli is intended as a family oriented event with games and activities going for the full 24 hours.

How to get involved:
Teams can be comprised of family members, groups of friends, club teammates, or any combination you like.

Registration: $50 per team (minimum of 5 players and no maximum)

Individuals can also register and organisers will combine them into teams.

Visit the Ballin For Eli website for more information: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/ballin-for-eli-2016-tickets-29391135678

Organisers are also looking for referees, supervisors, front door staff and a range of other volunteers to assist on the day.

Please pass this on through club networks and to anyone else who may be interested. If you have any questions or want out find out more, please contact Adam Cooper on 0466 695 841.