AUGUSTA — Gary Burns will never forget the knock at his door that came 21 years ago tonight.

It was police officers delivering the news no parent wants to hear. Burns’ daughter, Chrisanne, was dead, killed in a one-car, alcohol-related accident in 1993. Chrisanne, an outstanding basketball and softball player at Cony High School, was home from college, visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday.

One year later, with the help of members of the Augusta community and Cony High School, Burns and his wife, Carolyn, started the Chrisanne Burns Basketball Tournament in hopes of raising awareness of drinking and driving as well as to raise money for an annual scholarship.

“We just knew at the time we couldn’t get Chrisanne back, but we tried to do something constructive from that. It wasn’t easy,” Burns said. “We wanted somehow to try to send a message, to see if we could find any way to prevent a husband from having to tell his wife their daughter is dead at 19.”

Twenty years later, the tournament, which merged with the G&E Roofing Tournament several years ago, carries on that mission. It tips off Saturday at 10 a.m. at Cony High School and continues with girls and boys games throughout the day and into the night.

Saturday’s event highlights a busy weekend of local tournament action that includes basketball, hockey and even soccer.

The Chrisanne Burns Tournament has raised more than $38,000 in scholarships for female athletes furthering their education. Burns said 27 scholarships have been handed out since the tournament’s inception, with the amount increasing from $500 in the first year to $5,000 in recent years.

This being the 20th anniversary, Burns has invited previous scholarship winners to return to Saturday’s tournament and take part in a midday presentation about the event’s cause.

Following tradition, all participating players will receive a free t-shirt with Chrisanne Burns’ name and a message the Burns family hopes makes the players and others think about drinking and driving — “It could happen to you.”

“The scholarship is great, and the big thing for Carolyn and I is that it continues to send the message,” Burns said. “The feedback we’ve gotten from parents all these years is that it has made a difference.”

In other local preseason action, the Gardiner High School girls will host a round robin on Saturday. The tournament involves 14 teams, including Gardiner, Lawrence, Messalonskee, Mt. Blue, Mount View and Oak Hill, so games are played at both Gardiner High School and Gardiner Middle School starting at 9 a.m. Gardiner’s alumni game serves as the finale at 7:40 p.m.

Winthrop High School will hold its annual Tip-off Tournament to benefit Project Graduation on Friday and Saturday. The girls take the court Friday starting at 2 p.m. The boys hit the hardwood on Saturday starting at noon. Maranacook, Boothbay and Waynflete are among the other participants.

The Lawrence Bulldog Classic tips off at 8 a.m. on Saturday at Lawrence High School and Lawrence Junior High. Boys teams from Erskine, Skowhegan, MCI, Mt. Blue, Mount View, Messalonskee and Oak Hill are expected to participate.

Winslow High School is hosting a tournament involving its boys and girls teams Friday and Saturday, with a full slate of games scheduled to start at 11 a.m. on both days.

Sukee Arena in Winslow hosts the annual Turkey Tournament on Saturday. The puck drops at 9:30 a.m. with Winslow, Cony, Lawrence/Skowhegan, Waterville and Messalonskee among the teams expected to take the ice.

In soccer, the first Cassidy Charette Girls Soccer Alumni Game will take place Saturday at 2 p.m. at All-Pro Sports Center in Waterville.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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