Hoops for Alex event takes place at PBL Junior High School boys basketball games

PAXTON -- During Thursday's seventh- and eighth-grade boys basketball games against Rantoul Eater, Paxton-Buckley-Loda Junior High School held a fundraiser for its student manager, Alex Jones.
Jones has been traveling for weekly chemotherapy treatments in Chicago to combat a tumor in his spinal cord. Therefore, Thursday's event, an event titled Hoops for Alex raised funds with proceeds generated to help cover his medical bills.
“I think it's amazing and very overwhelming," said Abby (Younker Balk, Alex Jones's mother. "I can't begin to explain how much we appreciate it. There are some people we know, and people we don't know, who went above and beyond to make tonight happen, and we appreciate everything.”
A 50/50 drawing with a prize of over $450 was won by Lorie Ford of Melvin, who decided to give her winnings back to the family.
Two live auctions were held, with four items auctioned off at halftime of the seventh-grade game and five auctioned off during the eighth-grade game's halftime period.
A silent auction was held as well, with the bidding ending at the end of the seventh-grade game for 16 items and bidding available for 16 more items until the end of the third quarter of the eighth-grade game.
More items were raffled off at four different tables. 
Twelve items were drawn for at the end of the third quarter of the seventh-grade game. Ten items were drawn for at the end of the seventh-grade game.
Eleven items were drawn for at the end of the first quarter of the eighth-grade game. Ten more items were drawn for at the end of the second quarter of the eighth-grade game. 
The basketball games/fundraiser was attended by a full-capacity crowd -- many in gray T-shirts sold at the event stating on the front, "Alex's A-Team: Getting Our Gray On." 
A full student section chanted "Hoops for Alex" during some timeouts and chanted "Alex" prior to Brandon Knight going to the free-throw line to extend a one-point lead for PBL with seven seconds left in the eighth-grade game.
"It was a huge turnout, a huge success," said Stacy Johnson, PBL Junior High School's guidance counselor.
The idea for the event came up when Griffin Johnson, a teammate of his on PBL's seventh-grade boys basketball team, went to Stacy Johnson and talked with her about wanting to give Alex his jersey for one of the basketball games this season.  
Instead of Johnson sacrificing his jersey, a spare jersey was found for Jones.
“He didn't want to not let Griffin have the chance to play," Balk said.
Jones was listed in the scorebook for Thursday's game as jersey No. 12. Ultimately, however, Jones opted not to play.
“He was very overwhelmed with everything that was going on and was very nervous to play," Balk said. "He hasn't played basketball in a couple of years.”
“I was very nervous," Jones added.
Instead, Jones chose to keep his role as team manager. 
“He also didn't want to take away a starting position from any of his friends," Balk said.
Jones said he was “very” appreciative for the fundraising efforts.
“(It felt) good," Jones said.
“I want to thank everybody at the school for what they did to make tonight happen," Balk added, "and the community for helping to support Alex and his family."


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