John Raffel

Sports Scene


Shanon Belles worked with the Ithaca Champions Ball, which was conducted by Ithaca Youth Athletics. She’s the youth basketball director.. It’s a formal evening event at The Hardwoods in Ithaca. Following the prime rib dinner, Austin Hatch was the guest speaker. He’s a student at the University of Michigan who survived two plane crashes, which took other members of his family.

“It’s a fundraiser,” Belles said. “Instead of just asking for money, you actually get something back from it by the end of the night. You get a nice dinner, and Austin is just an incredible motivational speaker and has an inspiring story he can share with the community.”

Belles said monies raised from the program will go to various areas including Ithaca youth football, Ithaca youth basketball, youth wrestling and other needs. The emphasis is youth sports.

“This is a new thing and we’re hoping for it to become an annual event with an amazing keynote speaker each year,” Belles said. “We do have some younger athletes coming in. We’re hoping they can take away from the underlying message of never give up and hard work pays off.”

Belles, prior to the event, was anticipating 150 in attendance. There were some scheduling conflicts, and minus those, numbers might even be more impressive in the future.