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By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
As they started to plan the Hooping for Hope game Elmira’s Ellie Clearwater and Edison’s Payton Littlefield never could have imagined what it would turn out to be.

They had to set a goal for the event, and they set that at $1,000. In the end the two raised $12,000 for the Josh Palmer Fund with their event.

“The event was so much more than what we could have ever imagined,” Littlefield said. “It was so incredibly successful and the amount of support in the gym was incredible.

“Our goal was surpassed by about $11,000. It is absolutely mind blowing and nothing either of us could have predicted going in.”

The two were overwhelmed by the support that they received as they planned the event.

“It was truly amazing,” Clearwater said. “Seeing everyone come together to support us and all the businesses that reached out wanting to help us was amazing. Well the goal being $1,000, you can tell how shocked we were when we got our final number. To pass that goal by over $11,000 is insane.”

Both girls were happy to be able to raise the money for such an important cause like the Josh Palmer Fund.

“The Palmer Fund is a special organization and they have been the absolute best to work with,” Littlefield said. “We could do this project over and over again and Ellie and I would both choose to support the Palmer Fund every time.”

“It was amazing to raise money for the Palmer Fund,” Clearwater said. “Knowing the Palmer family and growing up with them made this so much more meaningful for us and we figured it would be the perfect thing for our community.”

The atmosphere for the event was something special for the girls.

“The energy and atmosphere in the gym was unlike any game I have ever played,” Littlefield said. “All of us there, supporting the same cause, it was an unforgettable experience.”

“It was insane to see everyone come out,” Clearwater added. “The gym was packed and that just goes to show how much a community can come together to support people. It was so special. Definitely something I’ll remember forever.”

On top of how special the event was, it was also a special moment for the two best friends to be able to face each other in a regular season high school game.

“I loved being able to play against Payton,” Clearwater said. “Growing up playing with her for all these years, it’s always a fun time getting on the court together. So you know when we play each other it’s going to be a fun night.”

Facing each other as opponents, while also teaming up for a cause made everything even more meaningful.

“It was so special to get to play against El,” Littlefield said. “She is my best friend on and off the court, so just getting to be playing the same game against her, but also with her for the cause, was the best.”

Scheduling a matchup between a STAC team and an IAC team isn’t easy, but both girls would love it if this game was something that could continue in the future.

“I’d love to see it continue in future years,” Clearwater said. “I think it would be something amazing that the entire community can benefit off of. But, realistically, it probably won’t happen due to the different athletic conferences.”

But, if the game was to continue in the future both girls would be happy to support it, just like so many people supported them this year.

“It would be awesome if our communities kept this going after we both graduate,” Littlefield said. “If it does continue, you can bet Ellie and I will both be back supporting, just like everyone did for us this year.”

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