Tournament carries on legacy

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PROSPECT — Four years ago, a three-on-three basketball tournament was started to honor a local woman and help her family. The tournament has continued every year since, and this year will be helping another family.

The 4th annual Karen DePalma 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament is March 18 at Prospect Elementary School, 75 New Haven Road.

The tournament memorializes Prospect resident Karen DePalma, who died from breast cancer in 2012 at the age of 46. In August 2016, Joe DePalma, Karen’s husband, died at 54 years old from kidney cancer.

The DePalmas are survived by their two children: Josh, 17, and Jessica, 12.

John Frasco, a friend of the DePalmas, spearheaded the creation of the basketball tournament. For the past three years the money raised at the tournament has helped the DePalmas with expenses, such as medical bills.

This year, the money will go toward helping another Prospect family with a child that is fighting cancer. Frasco said he wasn’t able to identify the family.

Josh DePalma is happy to see the tournament continuing in this way.

“Having the tournament in my mother’s name means a lot to me and shows how much the town and the family friends have given to my family. … This tournament means even more now that my father has passed. It also means a lot that the tournament keeps going in the future to help other people,” Josh Depalma said. “The money will be raised for a great cause, and it makes me happy that the event is helping other people as it has helped my family.”

Over the years the event has grown. Last year, the tournament drew nearly 40 teams, Frasco said.

The tournament is open to boys and girls in grades six through 12. Teams made up of children in grades six through eight will play from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The tournament for older players runs from 1 to 4 p.m.

Frasco attributes the tournament’s popularity to the fact that so many people know the DePalma family and want to help out.

“I think a lot of people had a lot of sympathy for the DePalma family because it was tragic what happened. We have had a lot of people volunteer. They are trying to keep the image of Joe and Karen alive,” Frasco said.

Josh Depalma said he isn’t sure what draws the crowds, be he’s thankful they come.

“This event always brings a good crowd for reasons that I don’t know, but it is a great community and I am always thankful that everyone comes,” Josh Depalma said.

Josh Depalma said he will remember his parents as great people with a positive attitude toward life.

“They referred to their lives with cancer as they are living with cancer and not dying with cancer. My parents always tried to make the most out of their lives,” he said.

As the tournament continues, Frasco would like to see it grow to the point where it can raise money to help a number of families that have been affected by cancer.

“If we can raise more money we can distribute it amongst more people who are fighting cancer. That’s the direction I hope it takes,” Frasco said.

Josh DePalma echoed Frasco’s sentiments.

“I hope this event continues to help other people in need or raise money to donate to a charity,” Josh DePalma said.

The cost of the tournament is $10 per player with a minimum of three players per team. Players can register as a team or by themselves. The deadline to register is March 10. Players can register through the Prospect Recreation Department by calling 203-758-0036 or online at prospectrec.com.

The tournament also includes a 50-50 raffle and food for sale.

“I think it is a lot of fun. The kids enjoy it. There are lot of things going on,” Frasco said.