Nome's junior basketball team, visiting last week for the Hooptime junior basketball tournament, left with more then it came with.
According to Carl Ferlauto, member of the Juneau-Gastineau Rotary Club, the team arrived in Juneau on March 19 and went right to the gym.
"They changed, got on the court, played and went back to the locker room to find their clothing and belongings had been rifled, and a little more than $700 in cash had been stolen," Ferlauto said.
"We were really shocked," said Nome's coach LieuDell Goldsberry. "We just couldn't explain it. The kids got their money taken, and we were wondering what we were going to do for food for them."
According to Ferlauto, Keith Peeples, the Community Schools building supervisor that night, informed KINY of the incident.
After hearing the news the next morning, KINY and the Juneau-Gastineau Rotary Club decided to head a collection place for donations to the team.
"We thought it was appropriate, because we were infuriated as well. It was not a very nice welcome for our visitors," Ferlauto said. "People in the community started to call in and bring in donations, running up the stairs and such. So, we did a quick passing of the hat, and by then they had quite a bit of money."
By the end of day on Thursday, KINY and the Juneau-Gastineau Rotary Club were able to hand over an envelope of $2,538.75 cash, Ferlauto said.
"And this came from everything from small children who wanted to kick in to major businesses," Ferlauto said.
A presentation was made at 8 p.m. on Thursday in front of the entire Hooptime tournament, during which Ferlauto said the following message was conveyed to the Nome team:
"Unfortunately, your team found out there are a few bad people in Juneau, but hopefully this gesture shows that there are a lot more really good people. We know this is more than you lost. Put it toward your next trip back here, because we really want you to come back."
Ferlauto said the team seemed to be pretty moved by the gesture.
"The kids were excited. It was very nice of the community, and the parents appreciated it too," Goldsberry said. "They were happy they got their money back, and on top of that, I was able to alleviate the cost of going down to Juneau."
Goldsberry is thankful to the community for pulling through.
"It's a great community to live in," he said. "They care about their sports and it shows by what they did for us."
Among several notable donations, the team received $700 from Mendenhall Auto and eight $25 gift certificates, one for each player, from Western Marine Auto, to buy supplies and socks, said Goldsberry. Bullwinkles Pizza Parlor also threw a pizza party for the team and offered another one at cost out of the collected money.
"I was very thankful and relieved in the sense that the kids got their money back," Goldsberry said. "And they got back more than what was taken."
With the extra funds, Goldsberry said he was able to make contributions back to the parents who paid money to come. And despite the unfortunate incident, Goldsberry said the team is looking forward to returning next year.
"Just goes to show that the community of Juneau is a great place to live in," Goldsberry said. "Shows you that just because there's one bad apple, doesn't mean the rest is."
Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.