Adam Ward Basketball Benefit

On Friday, January 31st and Saturday, February first, Salem High School hosted 10 basketball games. These games featured 19 teams from all over the state plus one from Rock Hill, South Carolina. The event is held annually in honor of a beloved Salem High School graduate, Adam Ward. Ward tragically passed away on August 26, 2015, at the hands of a gunman. Adam was pursuing a career as a cameraman for WDBJ7 and he was filming a segment at Smith Mountain Lake when the incident occurred. His coworker, Allyson Parker, the reporter at the time was also targeted and passed away. Not only did this terrible event upset friends and family of Adam’s, but the community as a whole. The series of games are a tribute to Adam and his love for Salem sports. Jerry Spangler, Hank Luton, and Grant Smythers were the three men who started the competition.

All proceeds from the event are used for multiple scholarships in Adams’s name administered by the Salem Educational Foundation. Every year the foundation selects multiple students that demonstrate how to be “Adam like”. In other words, you should be positive, caring, persistent, and willing to reach out and help others.

Virginia Tech also offers a scholarship in honor of Ward called Adam Ward’11 Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship is designed for undergraduate students in any field of study. Tech looks for students that not only demonstrate these traits but are also true Hokies, like Adam.

In the last few years, the event was held for one day and seven games were held. This year ten games were held and the event expanded to two days. The expansion of the games leads to more teams being chosen to compete including boys and girls. Cave Spring, Christiansburg, Lord Botetourt, Auburn, Patrick Henry,  William Byrd, Carroll County, Salem, Spotswood, Graham, Glenvar, Oak Hill, Northside, North Cross, Radford Highschool, and Believe Prepare the schools that participated this year.  

To kick off the weekend event, former NBA player, Chris Herren spoke at the Salem Civic Center on Thursday, January 30. At this free community event, Herren spoke about the experiences and bad decisions that impacted his life when he was a teenager. Including bullying, drinking, drugs, and peer pressure, hoping to inspire students to choose the right path. 

Co-founder of the event and current WVBOA referee, Hank Luton says, “We wanted to start this event to raise money for the scholarship fund. All 3 of us are basketball fans so this was an easy decision to host a basketball event. We also wanted to help keep the memory of Adam Ward alive. This was the 4th year of the Adam Ward Classic. The first year was February of 2017. The event is now a 2-day basketball event that brings some of the premier local and regional teams together. The games have been highly competitive and always features a boys game against Salem and Glenvar which has been great for our community. We will continue to pursue the best teams in our area and give fans great matchups in the future. Every year there has been standing room only at Salem High School.”

Overall the Adam Ward Classic is a great way for friends and family to remember the beloved Adam Ward. He made a huge difference in numerous lives and brought a smile to many faces. He is an inspiration to the community.