Jalen Edwards of the Panthers defends the paint during the Bigger Than Basketball Fundraiser event at Robert Bateman Secondary on Wednesday. (Submitted)

Jalen Edwards of the Panthers defends the paint during the Bigger Than Basketball Fundraiser event at Robert Bateman Secondary on Wednesday. (Submitted)

Abbotsford’s Bigger Than Basketball raises over $3,000

Fundraising basketball game continues to increase mental health awareness

Abbotsford came out big for the second annual Bigger Than Basketball fundraiser event on Wednesday night.

The event, which occurred at Robert Bateman Senior Secondary, raised more than $3,000 for mental health support.

That mark shattered last year’s inaugural event, which drew about $2,000.

The event comes on the heels of Mental Health Week in Canada, which ran from May 6 to 12 this year.

The idea for the game came from former Yale Secondary basketball star Bradley Braich, who scored many points on the court for the Lions basketball teams, but also struggled with many of the pressures and expectations associated with the game and being an athlete.

Braich said it was a great turnout.

“I’m thrilled with how the basketball community came together to support this cause,” he said. “The players put their competitive differences aside to promote the development and awareness of the Canadian Mental Health Association.”

The game featured some of the top boys and girls high school basketball players from Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Langley, and saw the girls away team coached by Darren and Juanita Rowell defeat the girls home team coached by Dan Village 85-77.

The boys away team also defeated the boys home team 93-84.

Walnut Grove’s Tavia Rowell was named the most valuable player of the girls game, collecting 21 points. She also won the three-point contest, which involved boys and girls, making 20 out of 25 shots.

Savanna Mak from the CMHA said events such as Bigger Than Basketball help get the word out about issues surrounding mental health.

“We might have a mental illness and we might not but either way we can all feel well,” she said. “It’s important for high-performing athletes to take a moment and reflect. We thank Bigger Than Basketball for assisting us in growing awareness on mental health.”

The event was hosted by the Abbotsford Basketball Association, and it is expected to return again for 2020.