Benefit raises over $26K for local family

BREMEN — The community came together last Thursday for an evening of giving and friendly competition with the 15th annual Swartzlander Basketball Benefit Game.

The proceeds from this year's event went to Jon Hershberger and his family. Last July, Hershberger was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare form of cancer. While donations are still coming in, the $26,518 raised after event expenses will help with current and future medical costs.

"Overall I thought everything worked out well," Bremen Police Sgt. and event organizer Steve Pittman said. "I couldn't have asked for a better community to live in. With things being as tough as the are financially right now, to be able to raise that kind of money, all the thanks goes to the community.

"I really want to thank all of our sponsors — the individuals, businesses and groups. If it wasn't for them, there's no way we could do this. It's amazing how everyone responded."

Along with various fundraising activities, the evening included the annual basketball game between Bremen High School senior players and members of the area's law enforcement community. During an intermission in the second half, Hershberger addressed the crowd and thanked Bremen for its support.

"The donations, cards, e-mails and text messages, the support I have received has been overwhelming," Hershberger said. "I went through 33 radiation treatments, and with the help of (this community), not one dime came out of my pocket. I traveled 12,160 miles in 33 days, so you imagine how much that took. It’s because of all of you that I was able to do it."

On the court, the police team included Pittman, Bremen Police Chief Matt Hassel, Police Commission representative Randy Sime and State Senator Ryan Mishler. Joining Ty Holmes, Jesse Glingle, Hope Jordan, J.J. Schafer, Lerin Studt, Michael Ricketts and Brittney Pittman on the senior squad was Fox 28 sportscaster and BHS grad Dean Huppert.

A notable matchup was between father Steve and daughter Brittney Pittman, who said she remembers every Swartzlander game.

"I’ve been waiting several years to do this, and I know he has, too," Brittney said. "It was a blast and something I’ll never forget."

The feeling from her opponent was mutual.

"To see the smile on her face, it's something I can't describe," Pittman said. "It was fantastic for me and one heck of a way to end her senior year as far as basketball goes. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing that I could do with her."

The seniors' 115-66 win improved their lifetime mark to 14-1.

"We did win one, in 1998 or '99," Pittman said. "It took five or six Notre Dame football players to help us win that one."