So, how does one even begin to find the words to express the amount of gratitude they feel? Our hearts are full tonight.

Tonight was incredible, and incredibly overwhelming! Baskets For Zach was the amazing fundraising initiative  of our excellent Mayor of Barrie, Jeff Lehman, MP Alex Nuttall and their incredible teams – their way of connecting with Zach on a level he could relate to. Through his favourite sport of all time – basketball. They all played with heart and we were all rewarded with a night of skill and shenanigans!

The afternoon began with a trip to #AppyHour at Moxies on Bayfield Street with Charlie and Darryl from 107.5 KoolFM. Zach and his buddies were treated to truck tacos, french fries and wayyyy to much iced tea (sugar is good before a game right?). Our Mayor Jeff Lehman came out for a taco too – and made the boys feel pretty special. They started getting hyped up and by the time the RV pulled out, they were ready to play.

We arrived at Georgian College Athletic Centre at 5:30 – the teams changed, put on their awesome t-shirts and began warming up. It was evident as players trickled in that we were in for a spectacular night watching Zach’s All-Stars versus the Governor Generals. More and more players arrived and we realized just how much impact Zach and his dream to raise funds for youth mental health had. Many of our city councillors played on the Governor Generals’ team – all great sports and all showing Zach how supportive our community is. Grandparents, family, friends, Ann Hoggarth, Eric Dean, Lance Chilton – even the stands were full of super excited spectators – all cheering for this awesome event. The energy was tangible.

Speeches were wonderful – with the donation of $1000 from Councillor Doug Shipley, mention of a $500 donation from Councillor Mike McCann – and extremely supportive words from Mayor Jeff Lehman, MP Alex Nuttall, Eric Dean (RVH Foundation) and MPP Ann Hoggarth. Even Councillor Arif Kahn announced that he would match the cash donations brought in – over $500! Zach is a very fortunate boy.

Zach, Jeff and Alex began with a 3-point and free throw marathon – equaling a total of 68 points (everyone who pledged $1 per point – thank you!). Then, with the assistance of Stuart Finlayson – our epic referee and Superintendent of Education for Area 1 – the game began. It was full of exceptional dunks, layups and quite a few comical moves – thanks to our many councillors, all with a great sense of humour. I’d like to say I can remember the exact score, but I can’t – and it doesn’t REALLY matter – I DO know that Zach’s All-Stars won the game by a landslide – and they were a very proud team! High fives and handshakes ended what was legendary experience for my boy, his friends and his team members. Thank you to ALL who were able to come out and support Zach! We are proud to say this night raised over $4000 for Zach Makes Tracks – which goes far in helping the new Child and Youth Mental Health Unit at RVH.

Zach’s two mentors, Stew Garner and Ozz played on his team, showing that they always have his back – and they really do. We couldn’t do all of this without their support and guidance. Special mention to Greg, one of Zach’s coaches from Mind to Muscle – you’ve got some moves! Tante Kim – you rocked the court! Lucy, you’re one fiesty 9 year old! I want to mention every single person and I’m always afraid I will forget to thank someone – please know you are ALL in our hearts tonight!

A big thank you to Mayor Lehman, Mr. Nuttall, their staff (Lauren and Kira!), all of our Councillors, representatives, friends, volunteers, celebrities and athletes – this evening really was a slam dunk.

Zach – I know this sometimes gets overwhelming for you. We are so very proud of you and what you have accomplished (almost $40,000 raised and you haven’t even started!). My most favourite part of you is how humble you are. I’ve got your back darling. I know, you ‘just want to help people’. You are. Love you.

St. John Ambulance Crew

Thank you to the St. John Ambulance attendants there tonight – We’re so glad you were there, and so glad we didn’t need you!

Thank you to Stuart Finlayson for making this game even more epic than it was. Excellent refereeing!

The BEST referee!

Lucy was our youngest player - and quite a spitfire on the court! Her favourite part was the oranges ;)

Lucy likes oranges!

 

Appy Hour at Moxies with the Mayor, Charlie and Darryl

Moxies with Mayor Jeff Lehman, Charlie and Darryl from 107.5 KoolFM – a great start to the night!

Jeff, Alex and Zach during the competition

Zach had some epic shots during the free throw – quite impressive actually! Lots of cheering from the stands.

Zach, Jeff and Alex

Our Mayor has quite the skills too – both he and Alex didn’t hold back for Zach, and we think Zach gave them quite a run for their money!

 

Zach and Councillor Doug Shipley

Thank you to Councillor Doug Shipley for the very generous $1000 donation!

The boys - taking a quick break on the bench!

They may be kids, but don’t underestimate their basketball skills! Thank you to all of the team members!

 

High fives for a game well played tonight!

Every single player showed Zach what sportsmanship is all about! Together, this group raised over $4000 tonight!

Zach and his coach Greg, from Mind to Muscle

Coach Greg from Mind to Muscle never fails to remind Zach just how important stretching is! Zach has been working with their team since January to prepare for his big journey.