By: Matt Murphy
Tournaments on the virtual basketball court are nothing new for 76ers Gaming Club (GC).
Hosting their very own tournament for a great cause, however, is a first.
The inaugural 76ers GC x CHOP 2K Showdown powered by Nerd Street Gamers will benefit Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and will fuel promising research and innovative care that will help children in the Philadelphia area and around the world.
“With deep roots in Philadelphia and influence across the country, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals and we are thrilled to raise funds to support their work,” said Kathryn Alario, Vice President, Marketing, Philadelphia 76ers.
The NBA 2K 3-on-3 tournament is open to everyone and will take place Oct. 3-4. All proceeds go directly to CHOP, where each player can direct their $10 entry fee to any area of the hospital. The grand prize for the winning team is $1,500.
Interested players still have time to register (through Friday, Oct. 2) HERE.
“We appreciate the gaming community coming together virtually to support critical research and patient care at our hospital,” said Monica Taylor Lotty, Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer at CHOP.
Last fall, the support from the 76ers organization took on a different form.
Seven-year-old Freddy Curley loves basketball. More specifically, he loves the 76ers.
“Freddy started his love for the Sixers at age 5,” said Freddy’s mother, Beth. “He watched a few games at home with his dad, noticed Ben Simmons and that was it. He watches every game, knows facts from games past, can tell you the schedule and who is playing and roots and cheers for them all the time. His entire room is full of 76ers merch. He’s been to quite a few games and refuses to ever step foot in Boston because of the rivalry.”
In October, Freddy was not feeling well. After receiving some blood work, he was immediately taken to CHOP.
“Freddy was diagnosed on October 14, 2019,” Beth said. “It was the worst day of our lives.”
Freddy was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“As terrifying as everything was, we were somewhat relieved to hear what great prognosis and cure rate this type of cancer has thanks to research and new medicines available just in the past 20 years alone,” Beth said.
On Freddy and his family’s sixth full day in the hospital, the power of sports – and the power of social media – came into play.
“After the first week in the hospital, we couldn’t put off telling Freddy that he had cancer any longer,” Beth said. “A CHOP child life specialist named Lisa sat with us, explained everything to Freddy, and was the one to say the word cancer. It was a moment that no parent ever wants to live through, but Freddy took it with amazing strength and courage.
“I was so afraid of giving him the news that, the day before, I was scrolling through Instagram, saw [Philadelphia 76ers player] Matisse Thybulle and thought ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I can get something amazing to happen to balance out the terrible news he was about to get?’ And would you believe that when we woke up that Monday morning, Matisse not only wrote back, but also drove over to see him that very day? Literally only a few hours after Freddy found out that he had cancer, he was as happy as could be because a 76er came to see him!”
Thybulle’s mother, Elizabeth, had leukemia and passed away when he was a senior in high school. A 22-year-old rookie back in October who would appear in his first NBA regular-season game later that week, Thybulle spent time with Freddy and his family at the hospital.
Prior to the visit, Beth responded to Thybulle’s Instagram message with a note that read: “Wow. I’m speechless. Today is the day we tell him what he has and my goal was to fill it with something more memorable than the news. I hope you know that’s what you’re doing. Making this the day he met you. Words can’t express our gratitude.”
“[Thybulle’s visit] set the tone for the journey,” Beth said. “I’m not kidding. We realized that we can make lots and lots of amazing moments to balance out the bad and that’s really just what we have done.”
Luckily for the general public, the 76ers GC x CHOP 2K Showdown doesn’t involve facing Freddy in a basketball game on his own hoop like Thybulle did. Freddy won, 27-2 (“Freddy has a magnetic personality,” Beth explained. “He ALWAYS hangs his 76ers over-the-door hoop in his hospital rooms and has had one-on-one games with more staff than we can count.”).
This time around, the support for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and its patients will occur on the virtual basketball court – and everyone can help make a difference.
“Freddy is now in the stage of treatment called Maintenance. It will last about a year and a half and is less intense than the first 10 months of treatment. His hair is coming back and he is starting to feel like his old self again. Maybe even better. Freddy is truly a warrior and our hero, for sure.” – Beth Curley