North Dakota’s basketball community is coming together for one of its own.
Tonight at Legacy High School's Haussler Gymnasium, some of the top high school players in the state will participate in the Basketball Charity Benefit For Brent DeKok with proceeds going to DeKok and his family. The St. Mary’s High School boys basketball coach is battling cancer for the second time in less than three years.
“His strength and courage through all this is amazing, it really is,” said Jason Horner, Legacy High boys basketball coach and boyhood friend of DeKok and his brother Jon. “It’s not surprising because of the person Brent is. He’s been through some really tough stuff but he keeps fighting. His attitude and positivity through it all has been inspiring to everyone.”
DeKok, a 1996 Century High graduate, has endured countless doctor trips and chemotherapy sessions to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Despite it all he continued to coach the Saints throughout last season.
“The guy is an incredible fighter and it’s rooted in his faith,” said Horner, who attended Century High with the DeKok brothers. “When it (cancer) came back during the basketball season, after the West Region coaches meeting we met as a group because we knew we needed to do something.
“We wanted to do something that was basketball-based and hopefully something that can raise an amount of money that can be helpful. That’s what’s most important here, helping Brent.”
The event will feature a 3-point contest, dunk contest, skills competition and a short exhibition game. During the event, which starts at 5 p.m., people can bid on a diverse array of memorabilia, experiences, tickets and other items.
“We have something for everyone,” Horner said. “The support we’ve received from people in the community, and all over the state actually, is incredible. There have been so many people that have helped pull this together. It’s definitely not just one person.”
Among the many things up for bid include an autographed Carson Wentz football, a guided fishing tour by Mike Peluso Outdoors, a set of tires from Tires Plus, NDSU Bison football tickets, Medora Musical tickets, golf passes, hotel stays, photography sessions and more. Bidding on the items will take place during the basketball activities. The winning bids will be determined before the night ends, which also includes a meal on the grill.
The basketball portion of the event features Class A and Class B players from across the state.
“We have 28 some guys coming from all over the state and it says a lot about those kids being willing to be a part of this,” Horner said. “They don’t necessarily know Brent, or even what he’s going through, yet they’re willing to do whatever they can to help out. That’s pretty special and it shows what kind of kids they are and what kind of people we have in our state.”