‘Pick Up the Ball’ basketball tournament takes place this weekend

Author: wink news

FORT MYERS, Fla.- In the wake of a shooting spree in Fort Myers, local law enforcement is hoping some hoops will help ease tension in the community.

The “Pick Up the Ball” tournament on Saturday features law enforcement teams competing against residents in multiple games of basketball.

The free event starts at 11 a.m. at the Stars Complex at 2980 Edison Avenue in Fort Myers.

Other entertainment includes live music, celebrity guest appearances, award winning children’s author Debra Ford Smith and a chance to meet the cast and crew of the movie “Hanging Millstone.”

The “Pick Up the Ball” idea was started by local businessman Ted Sottong to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and residents.

It’s that partnership with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office that Sottong says has made all the difference in the world. “At one of our earliest meetings, one of the teens told a sheriff’s captain that he ‘hated cops.'”

The captain and other deputies on hand decided a little role reversal was in order and designed a scenario where they were the bad guys and the teens were law enforcement.

“It made an immediate impact,” said Sottong. “The kids realized quickly that it’s not easy being a cop.”

“Pick Up the Ball promotes a simple concept,” said Sheriff Scott. “It’s all about trying to rebuild relationships and improve upon existing ones. It’s keeping at risk kids more interested in shooting basketballs than shooting guns. These kids have pledged to stay on the straight and narrow and as a result, our entire community benefits.”

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