WATERVILLE — After making a donation to the Taylor Tip Off, a basketball tournament named after two sisters who lost their parents to domestic violence, people passed by a table covered in purple at the entrance to the Thomas College field house.

Most people looked at the big Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence banner, pausing for a moment before rushing off to watch student athletes in the games Sunday morning at the college’s two gymnasiums.

Although many of them didn’t take the pamphlets and papers, it was clear they were taking time to think about the impact of domestic violence, represented by the purple table spread, said the coalition’s Jon Heath.

“It’s uncomfortable for people to be faced with (domestic violence) … and that’s why events like this tournament are so important in making people aware that there are real families being affected by it,” he said.

The tournament was started three years ago by teammates and coaches of Kaylee and Kiana Taylor, sisters from Westbrook who lost their parents in a murder-suicide in April 2009.

Over the first two years, the tournament raised more than $23,000 for the sisters, who played for the ME Swish basketball team, which along with the Maine Athletic Club started the event.

This year, the sisters asked to have the donations start going instead toward a Taylor Memorial Fund, which will help other Maine children who lost their parents to domestic violence, said Mark Leclerc, owner of the Maine Athletic Club.

Dozens of games were played at the college, as well as Falmouth middle and high schools, featuring boys and girls middle and high school-aged teams from across the state.

The tournament’s fundraising goal this year was set at $20,000. Around noon at the college, Leclerc was confident that both sites combined could reach that mark, something he attributed to the example set by the Taylor sisters.

“People are making a lot of donations so far because they all know about these girls’ decision to help others,” he said.

Unlike traditional competitions, this tournament’s winners will be the teams that raise the most money, with the top fundraising teams getting T-shirts and sweatshirts, Leclerc said.

This was the first year the tournament was held at Thomas, with college students, coaches and athletes volunteering to referee and take on other tasks.

There has been a big spike this year in outreach and fundraising efforts in addition to the basketball tournament’s expansion, Heath said.

He said the added help was needed. But, unfortunately, it seems to have taken a series of fatal instances of domestic violence over the past year to raise awareness, Heath said, referring to incidents in Winslow, Dexter and several other communities.

David Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]

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