Game of Hope Feb. 8 in Beeghly Center

Game of Hope Hope FoundationThe Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley presents the 11th annual Game of Hope Classic Charity Basketball game and the new Mark Cole Agency’s KIDS Fun Zone on Sunday, Feb. 8, in Beeghly Center at Youngstown State University.

The KIDS Fun Zone, featuring inflatables and games for children, opens at 1 p.m., with tip-off for the basketball game at 3 p.m. Teams comprised of community leaders, elected officials and media will play.

The event has raised thousands of dollars over 11 years for chronically/terminally ill children. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under.

For more information, visit

Partners for the event include television stations WKBN 27 FirstNews, WYTV; radio stations 93.3 THE WOLF, UAW Locals 1112 & 1714; NEOEA (North Eastern Ohio Education Association), Youngstown State University, Minuteman Press, and the Lamar Outdoor Advertising.

Detective John Gocala, Jr. of the Boardman Police Department, will be head coach of Team Hope, while former Cleveland Browns player Felix Wright will be head coach of Team Kings. Steve Jones of the Steven Jones State Farm Agency will serve as owner of Team Hope, and Larry Rizer of the Mahoning County Masco Workshop will be the assistant coach. Warren City Law Director Greg Hicks will serve as team owner of Team Kings, and Ron Iarussi of the Mahoning County Educational Service Center will be assistant coach.

Players from Team Hope include: Chase Evans-WYTV 33, Thomas Seifert-Minuteman Press, Orlando Jordan-Penn National Gaming, Steve Stroney-United States Air Force, Andrew Zabel-Zabel Restaurant Equipment, George Dimos-Tanfastic Tanning Salon, Christina Esparra-OCCHA & Coca-Cola, Jessica Shields-Youngstown Police Department and Lisa Saxon-LaBrae School District.

Players for Team Kings include: Adrienne Toth-Adrienne’s Army/Cancer Survivor, Robert Morales-UAW Local 1714, Emily Smerchansky-Habitat For Humanity of Mahoning County, Alex Zoldan-Phantom Fireworks, Dr. John Cox-Wee Ones Pediatrics, Lisa Stroney-Briarfield Health Care Centers, Rick Zitkovic-Lamar Advertising, Todd Muckleroy-NEOEA/Canfield Local Schools, Justin Turner-Roxbury Pizza, and Deryck Toles-Inspiring Minds.

Bishop George V. Murry of the Diocese of Youngstown will give the blessing, and Cortney MacKay from Hubbard will sing the national anthem. Zac Humphries will call the play-by-play, while Thomas John from Clear Channel Youngstown will serve as the master of ceremonies.

Other activities include a performance by Natalie’s Dance Co. of Warren, and a $5 for $50 half-court shot competition. Also, there will be an opportunity to put a pie in the face of Hope Foundation Founder Anthony Spano,

In addition, representatives from The Gibson Agency will be on hand to present a $5,000 check to the Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley from the Giving Campaign, which was held this past holiday season.

Event partners include television stations WKBN 27/First News & WYTV, radio stations 93.3 “THE WOLF” and News Radio 570 WKBN; UAW Locals 1112 & 1714; NEOEA (North Eastern Ohio Education Association), the Lamar Advertising Company, Youngstown State University, Mark Cole Agency, Austintown Bounce and Minuteman Press.

The Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley’s is a non-profit 501(C)3. The mission of the foundation is to provide charitable and financial support and volunteer services to chronically and/or terminally ill children. For more information on donations and televised information, as well as how you can be a part of this great event and the foundation, please visit