Arnold cancels charity basketball game with Steelers
Arnold officials blamed finances for the cancellation of the annual basketball game that honored the late Arnold Officer Thomas Cimino and pitted local police against the Steelers.
The Tom Cimino D.A.R.E. Benefit Basketball Game will not reach its 17th anniversary this year because the fundraiser didn't earn much money last spring, according to Arnold Mayor Larry Milito and Arnold police representatives.
“There was hardly anybody there,” Milito said. “They didn't take much in.”
Arnold police Officer Eric Doutt, who took over organizing the game in 2002 upon Cimino's death, confirmed the event barely broke even last year.
The Steelers receive a portion of the ticket sales, Milito said; Doutt estimated the Steelers' cut at $2,500. A spokesman for the Steelers did not return a call for comment.
Once the game's costs were covered, there wasn't much left for charity, Arnold officials said.
Additionally, Arnold no longer has a D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program since federal funding was cut, Milito and police Chief William Weber said.
“(The game) is slated as a fundraiser for the D.A.R.E. program. We're not using the D.A.R.E. program anymore,” Weber said. “When you're at the break-even point, it's not worth it.”
Cimino founded the charity game in 1996 to raise money for drug-education programs at New Kensington-Arnold School District.
Police officers from Arnold and New Kensington squared off against Steelers players who have included Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Troy Polamalu, Brett Keisel and James Harrison over the years.
The home team usually lost — sometimes by huge margins — but the score wasn't the point.
“I wish we could've kept it going because I feel, for many of the kids in the community, it may have been their only chance to meet a Steeler in person,” Doutt said.
Cimino's widow, Pam Cimino of Arnold, said her husband was committed to the community and to sports.
“Tom loved sports, all sports. It didn't matter what sport it was,” said Pam Cimino. She noted her husband also organized softball games between local police and fire departments. He also coached youth baseball and basketball.
Pam Cimino said she was disappointed to hear the game won't be held this year. She said her son, named Tom after his father and now 27, usually played in the game; family members attended each year.
“When you lose a loved one, the most important thing is you want them to be remembered,” she said. “I wish they were able to continue it.”
When Cimino died of steatohepatitis, a liver disease not related to alcohol consumption, Doutt took over organizing the game and renamed it in Cimino's honor.
Believed to have once been the only basketball game featuring the Steelers in the Alle-Kiski Valley, Doutt noted that several local schools now bring in the team. Last year Allegheny Valley, Apollo-Ridge, Ford City and Kiski Area school groups all hosted the Steelers in addition to Arnold. Apollo-Ridge, Ford City and Kiski all scheduled similar basketball games this spring.
“There's other games scheduled nearby now, which ate into our sales,” Doutt said.
Doutt said attendance was higher when Roethlisberger and other stars participated, but the Steelers players aren't announced ahead of time, meaning organizers can't always pre-sell many tickets until right before the event.
Doutt and Milito said they'd like to find another way to honor Cimino, a 23-year veteran of the city's police department. Milito said he'd like a benefit to fund a scholarship in Cimino's name.
“It's going to be 11 years on April 4 since his death,” Pam Cimino said. “It's hard to believe. He was such a character.
“It was his lifelong goal to be a police officer in Arnold. He started as dispatcher, then became a police officer,” she said. “He even had to be buried in Arnold, in Union Cemetery.
“I really hope they do something to carry on the tradition.”
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Natrona Heights Scoutmaster proud to carry on tradition
- Blessings in a Backpack to help feed Verner Elementary students
- Haiti native teaches Creole to missionaries at Zion United Methodist Church
- A-K Valley public pools deal with deficits, repair costs, lower attendance
- Despite flat tire, driver refuses to stop
- Lower Burrell officers recognized for ending theft ring
- Dogs helping kids become confident readers at Bon Air Elementary
- Apollo Borough embarks on rental reform with notices to landlords
- South Buffalo Township woman accused of stealing nearly $13K from employer
- Leechburg Area School District contracts with Pittsburgh firm for online database
- Cambodian students answer Oakmont group’s prayers