Jamie Wise was a regular at the Sean Toedman Memorial 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament the past three years as a volunteer helping to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
As one of the first children to receive a living donor liver transplant when she was 3, Wise, a 2010 Marengo High School graduate from East Dundee, was able to lead a pretty healthy life into her 20s and felt a special connection to St. Jude's.
For the past couple of years, Wise battled liver failure, and April 5 she died during liver transplant surgery. She was 22.
To honor her memory and dedication to the tournament now in its fourth year, it has been renamed the Jamie Wise and Sean Toedman Memorial 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament. Toedman, of Elgin, died in 1996 at age 12 of brain cancer.
David Schultz, the event's founder and Wise's cousin, said Wise was always willing to come out and help at the tournament, even when she was not feeling well.
"It's going to be a tough year," Schultz said. "[Wise] always took such an interest in [the tournament]. She had a special spot in her heart for St. Jude's."
This year's tournament will be June 22 at Lions Park in East Dundee and will include some new divisions for competitors. A boys middle school (going into seventh or eighth grades) division has been added.
Schultz said he wanted to give younger kids a chance to compete and draw in more spectators. In the past, the spectators have been the main supporters of raffle and auction events.
"I picked middle school over high school because I think more kids are playing at that age," Schultz said. "We could bring in more spectators with an age like that."
Also added was a men's recreation division to go with the men's championship, women's and men's over 40 divisions.
"We have divisions for everyone," Schultz said. "Even if someone wants to come out and get their buddies together and have a good time."
Schultz said when Wise found out she was getting a new liver everyone was ecstatic. That changed quickly, but Schultz said her death has created a new dedication to the cause.
"There's a renewed interest in it," Schultz said. "There's a lot of things that have fallen into place."
One of those things is corporate sponsorship, which has already brought in $6,000. Last year the tournament raised $5,000.
"All these companies have stepped up," Schultz said "When people hear about it, they want to help."
For Schultz, seeing the money come in is both humbling and rewarding.
"You feel kind of awkward asking for donations, [but] the responses you get are amazing," Schultz said. "To sit down and write that check [to St. Jude's] means a lot."
Also new this year are some premium raffle prizes, including foursomes at area golf courses, a 60-inch flatscreen TV and a weekend getaway to Galena.
For information about registration or sponsorship, contact Schultz at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit jamiesean3on3.myevent.com.
• Rob Smith is a sports writer for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com.