PROSSER The Team Jazzy Hoops 4 Hope Benefit Tournament joined together 54 Amateur Athletics Union (AAU) teams in competing to play for a cause where trophies and hardwood statistics were not the goal of this past weekend’s 118 games.
Playing hard in support of Jazzy Guillen, a Mustangs’ sophomore basketball and soccer family member who’s battling a rare stage 4 cancer with an unyielding smile, was the heartwarming drive for an above the rim purpose.
“It shows the strength of our community. Prosser is a family. And, family helps other family members and that’s our role to help her and her family. And, we are more than happy to help,” Prosser High School junior and varsity basketball team member Madison Golden strongly communicated after playing with a team made up of varsity, JV and C team Mustangs’ players.
Olivia Medrano, Jazzy’s fifth grade sister, displayed her brightly colored TeamJazzy magic marker artwork on her left arm and leg as she assisted in leading the spirited charge as part of the Little Lady Mustangs team.
“It feels good. Everybody is supporting my sister, and they’re all here to help support her and win for her,” Olivia expressed. “It’s helping… Jazzy knows.”
She described that her love of basketball came from Jazzy, who also taught her how to dribble and shoot. Just like any older sibling, she was forced to let Olivia play with her, but she doesn’t mind anymore.
“This (past) week when I went to see her, she’s walking a lot and not getting tired as fast,” Olivia stated.
Prosser Girls Varsity Head Coach Kyler Bachofner acknowledged his amazement in the number of teams that chose, and wanted, to play in this benefit tourney, which raised more than $25,000 and exceeded the fundraising goal.
“So many teams made it a priority to come here, and they made mention of that they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It just moves you,” coach graciously voiced. “Jazzy’s energy, her excitement and joy for life.”
All the weekend’s proceeds will go directly to Jazzy’s fight against cancer, thanks to the Tri-Cities Basketball Officials Association donating their officiating services for the tournament.
“To have so many officials that have come and donated their time is overwhelming. When I got the list, I couldn’t even hold my composure. It just blew me away with their support,” Bachofner declared.
Due in large part of the Inland Empire AAU’s support and advertisement to its member teams, the three-day event had to expand beyond Prosser. Grandview High and Middle School donated the use of their gyms.
“When I got the chance, I knew that I wanted to give back. This area really benefited me,” Brandon Artz, former Grandview High School Class of 2006 and University of Idaho Vandals football and basketball player, proudly professed.
“Coming from here and just being able to give back my time, and the rest of the officials as well… they’ve saved over $5,000 by way of our donation,” Artz noted.
Throughout the Lower Yakima Valley, Jazzy’s story about her radiant smile shining through an unexpected diagnosis of an invasive cancer, which is now in her liver, has brought together scores of community team members as one family.
“Knowing as a player, like you can’t do anything more. And, you know you want to do something, anything, to help,” PHS freshman boys basketball player Kolbe Phillips conveyed. “...makes the community stronger when everyone’s together, doing something for someone you love.”
Inside Housel Middle School, the long hallway outside the gym, where fans could be heard cheering on their teams and even the referees, warm blue walls were decorated with an assortment of Jazzy’s pictures that showcased her Most Vibrant Personality (MVP) talents.
“We’ve had tons of help from sponsors and people donating their time to help with everything,” boys varsity basketball head Coach Toby Cox said. Jazzy’s heartwarming and courageous smiles were on exhibit for all to appreciate, which vividly captured the impact that she, along with her family have had on a community, continues to be the Mustangs’ theme of winning each day with a sunbeam.
“It’s good to see Jazzy smiling, but we know she’s sick, and we’re all just trying to help her push through and pray for her,” PHS sophomore and boys varsity basketball player Hayden Hicks added as he volunteered on the concessions crew.
The 15-year old MVP has been at Children’s Hospital in Seattle since Sunday, Feb. 17, receiving critical treatment.
“Everybody is texting Jazzy. We’re all keeping up with her and giving her positive vibes,” Golden affirmed.
According to Olivia, “She barely looks at her phone because she has so many messages.”