DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The First Four NCAA tournament games at UD Arena won’t be played this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and many of the Big Hoopla events won’t take place in Dayton. However, the organization is still committed to supporting local military families.
One military parent, Joanne Clark, and her family moved to the Dayton area in 2018.
“Moving around quite a bit. It hasn’t been easy,” she said.
Clark grew up in a military family and she said financial hardships are often an issue. “So scholarships such as the Big Hoopla will really help combat those common problems and help funding educational needs that our children otherwise wouldn’t be able to get,” she said.
The Big Hoopla Scholarship program was created when the pandemic forced the NCAA to move the tournament games from UD Arena. One of the primary goals of the big hoopla is to support Wright Patterson Air force base families so organizers decided to use sponsorship dollars collected in 2020 to support them.
“Wright-Patt is the single largest employer in Ohio with over 31,000 employees working at the base, so it’s really important we have that strong tie and continue to support the base,” said Terry Slaybaugh, the chair of the First Four local organizing committee.
“It’s difficult for a lot of families who may still need to go into the office and they may not have wifi. They may not have enough computers or Chromebooks for their students,” said Sarah Spees, a volunteer director for the Big Hoopla.
The program will provide ten $1,000 scholarships to K-12 students in active-duty military families, as well as Blue Star and Gold Star families. The deadline to apply is March 30.