ROCK HILL — It's back and according to Tennessee Titans defensive back Chris Hope, it's bigger and better.
But after the success of last year's Chris Hope Celebrity Benefit Basketball Game at Rock Hill High School, it seems a stretch to think of it being any bigger or any better.
This year's benefit basketball game has been moved to Northwestern High and will be played at 6:30 p.m. May 14.
Money from last year's event, nearly $20,000 went to Phyllis Paden-Adams, a popular Rock Hill elementary school teacher who was paralyzed in an automobile accident.
The 2010 game at Rock Hill High, where Hope excelled in football and basketball, was sold out. It was so popular that fans were turned away at the door.
Fans turned out not only to support Adams but to see Hope and a cast of NFL players - Ben Watson, Phillip Adams, Sidney Rice, Johnathan Joseph, Sheldon Brown, DeShea Townsend, Anthony Smith, Ike Taylor, Greg Jones, Deon Grant, Alex Barron, Darnell Dockett and Cary Williams - play some hoops.
This year's teams again will be coached by Gerald Dixon Sr. and Jeff Burris, local players who spent time in the NFL.
"Chris Hope does not get a penny from this event,'' Hope said. "We started this game to give back to someone in our community who is deserving. Our goal is to grow the event and this year to surpass what we raised last year for Mrs. Adams.
"This is a positive event with a good cause. And it's a reunion for hometown heroes, which is a treat for the fans who supported us when we were in high school.''
Hope, who starred at Rock Hill High, Florida State and played in a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers before signing a free agent contract with Tennessee, started the I C HOPE Fund to get out and help in the community. Additional information can be seen at the website ichope24.com.
The mission each year is to target a situation or misfortune in the community and to help or donate. It doesn't always have to be negative. It will just be an opportunity to lend a hand or help someone in need.
This year's proceeds will go to Chelsey Mossburg, married to Matt Mossburg and mother to 3-year-old Asher Ethan Mossburg.
Chelsey was in an automobile accident and was flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Doctors told the family that Chelsey had suffered multiple injuries, the worst ones being a serious head injury to her brain stem, and a dislocation of her skull from her spine. The brain stem injury caused doctors to not offer much hope for her survival.
But Chelsey was released from intensive care after four weeks and was transferred to Carolinas Rehabilitation at CMC for six weeks of therapy. During those six weeks, Chelsey made tremendous improvement, regaining sensation and movement throughout her body.
Today, Chelsey is in outpatient rehabilitation but remains dependent for all her needs.
"We have added a silent auction, so if you don't get a ticket you can be involved in that or can make a private donation,'' Hope said. "We welcome anyone who wishes to help to do so. We also will have some raffles.''
Except for Rice, who might come, the players from last year's game plan to return. Hope has added running backs Willie Parker//, who played with Hope in Pittsburgh, and Chris Johnson from Tennessee. And there is a long list of former local standout athletes who did well but didn't make it to the NFL.
"Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward was coming last year but was unable to attend," Hope said. "Depending on what happens on 'Dancing With the Stars,' Hines said he plans to be here this year.''
Ticket locations will be announced. Tickets are $7 advance and $10 at the door. VIP tickets will again be available for $50.
Purchasing VIP tickets allows the holders to enter doors at 5 p.m. to participate in shoot around with the players and to enjoy light appetizers. They will have seats behind the team benches.
"Our goal is to help a deserving person from our county every year,'' Hope said. "We hope everybody will come out and support our cause - help even if they are not attending the game.
"Rock Hill High was not available this year and Northwestern was very willing to host the game," he said. "We decided that since this is for all the people in our county, it might be good to switch locations to a different school every year. We're looking into that and hope we'll be able to move it around.''
Barry Byers 329-4099