It was a happy scene — the sound of music, dribbling basketballs, and the laughter of youngsters and not so youngsters playing a little basketball and having a good time at the Donlon Auditorium on the second floor of Village Hall on Saturday, Sept. 26. But the event was tinged with sadness; the tournament was a benefit for the family of Adam “Jeff” McQueen, 22, one of four young men who died in the Aug. 26 car accident in the village of Saugerties.
At the time of the crash, McQueen and his sister Qiona Jones were raising a number of nieces and nephews, according to Heather Swart, who organized a 3-on-3 memorial tournament.
McQueen was a popular basketball player at Kingston High School and in college, and played most recently for the Center Jump Professional Basketball League, which has a team in Kingston and practices at the Donlon.
Swart is the national director of the league and put together the tournament to raise money to help Jones and the kids she’s now raising on her own.
“We’re here to celebrate Jeff’s life by doing something that he loved doing, playing basketball,” Swart said.
Teams from Kingston and Saugerties with players from as far away as Syracuse and Brooklyn played a number of 3-on-3 games. There were a total of 24 adults who played and three youth teams from Saugerties and Kingston that also took to the court.
One of McQueen’s best friends while growing up was Alfanso “Squeak” Knox. His mother, Annette, help organize the event.
Annette had the “popular house” when Jeff and Squeak were growing up. It was the place all the kids would hang out, play video games and talk basketball.
“What’s going on here is so great,” Annette said. “So many of his friends and people who didn’t even know him are here to play basketball and raise money for his family.”
Jones was overwhelmed by the number of people who turned out to play and raise money.
“This is just something he loved to do — play basketball,” she said.
“It’s just so important to remember him in a positive way,” Jones added.
“This event has really brought the community and family together,” Knox said, something echoed by Saugerties Mayor William Murphy, who okayed the use of the gym.
“This is a really great way to use the gym, and these guys, McQueen and his friends, practiced here at the Donlon every weekend,” Murphy said.
Volunteers at the tournament included those selling refreshments and DJs from Muzik Lovers Entertainment in Kingston.
The tournament’s goal was to raise $2,500 for the family. Swart said about $1,800 was raised. To donate, contact Swart at (845) 389-9023 or send a donation to the Jeff McQueen Scholarship Fund at Rondout Savings Bank.