Tourney brings $10,000 for new floor at Hall-Dale

FARMINGDALE — Joey Gilbert and Ryan Madore knew they could help. But the boost they were able to provide surprised even them.

Gilbert and Madore, Farmingdale and Hallowell residents, respectively, organized a basketball tournament this past weekend with the goal of raising $2,500 to help toward renovations to Hall-Dale High School’s Penny Gym. The tournament instead raised $10,000, and Madore presented a check to school principal Mark Tinkham Wednesday to cap a fundraising endeavor that proved more fruitful than either of the two could have expected.

“This community will come out and support anything, so I wasn’t quite surprised at that,” Gilbert said. “You hope that the community will come through like they normally do. But then you see it and you’re like ‘Oh, wow.’ … We didn’t think we’d get $10,000 for something like this.”

The money will go into replacing the 56-year-old gym’s floor, which will cost $150,000. Through a combination of business donations and school booster efforts, Hall-Dale has raised over $67,000 so far.

“Whenever you can get a check for $10,000, it puts a huge dent in that $150,000,” Tinkham said. “To exceed the expectations of what we thought was going to be $2,500, and turn it into $10,000, is just astronomical.”

Madore and Gilbert have been involved in fundraising since the end of 2014, when Madore, his wife and O.J. and Jodie Jaramillo started up “Bulldog Strong” as a tribute to Ryan’s mother and her friend, both of whom were battling cancer. The foundation has run girls basketball camps the past two summers, and will hold boys’ and girls’ clinics this year. In mid-January, the 5th- and 6th-grade travel coaches set their sights on holding their first basketball tournament, with the hopes of providing funds for their hometown program and the one their daughters, currently playing for their team, will eventually join.

The tournament took place last Friday to Sunday, and was held at both Hall-Dale Elementary School and High School. Boys’ and girls’ 3rd-and 4th-grade and 5th-and 6th-grade teams competed, giving the event 16 teams and drawing participants from outside school distracts such as Oxford Hills, Messalonskee and Maranacook.

Madore and Gilbert sought $2,500, which would be enough for a plaque bearing the “Bulldog Strong” name.

“I wanted something in the gym forever that I could give back to the boys and to the girls, to always remember what we’re about,” Madore said. “And that $2,500 just exploded.”

The money came from everywhere. Local businesses contributed $6,300, referees who could have asked for a total of $2,000 offered to work as volunteers, participating teams paid $150 travel fees and attendance swelled, with fans packing the 350-capacity high school gym for Sunday’s games.

On Thursday, Madore, thinking he still had to pay officials, figured he was looking at a $5,000 profit. Then the event gained $800 more Friday night with four games.

“I made them re-count the bags twice. I said ‘Guys, you made a mistake,’ ” Madore said. “We re-counted the bags that night and we said ‘Oh my good Lord, if that’s the way it’s going to be…’ It was crazy.”

Hall-Dale is planning on selling spots on the new floor to sponsors, and “Bulldog Strong” will get its name on the new layout.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that we ever could have made $10,000,” Madore said. “For a lot of people that donated their time, their sons and daughters will play on that floor, and that ‘Bulldog Strong’ logo will be on there forever.”