The 5th annual See3Slam basketball tournament was supposed to happen this weekend in Richland

RICHLAND, Wash. — During a normal year, this upcoming weekend would bring thousands of people to Richland for an annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament. However, See3Slam organizers decided to cancel the July 2020 event just weeks after the coronavirus was labeled a pandemic.

“We go full bore starting around the March time frame,” said Terry Fleischman, director of See3Slam and member of the Tri-Cities Sunrise Rotary. “So it was probably good that it hit then so that we weren’t too far along.”

Usually, crews would be shutting down George Washington Way Friday evening.

“Today would’ve been just madness,” said Fleischman on Friday. “The street would be shut down by 6 p.m., and you would start seeing everything start to move in.”

The event normally attracts around 5,000 people over the weekend, including spectators and players. Organizers also bring in a variety of vendors and host a concert at John Dam Plaza. Money raised goes to a variety of charities and causes, including one Tri-Cities eye doctor that goes to Ethiopia every year to remove cataracts on the blind – hence the name and logo of the event.

Now – an unexpected setback, on what would have been the event’s fifth anniversary.

“Our rotary club has been rolling up its sleeves, getting out there and doing things physically as opposed to raising funds,” said Fleischman. “Our duck race was just canceled as well, so everything that we normally do in terms of fundraising has been canceled, so we have become more creative.”

Thankfully, rotary club members have some money saved up to continue to support local charities. Fleischman also mentioned that community members have stepped forward and continued to donate money, despite no official campaign or events.

“We’ve even had some anonymous donors,” she said.

Fleischman also wanted to express thanks for their many sponsors that shifted their resources – once See3Slam was canceled – to other ways of helping the community during the pandemic.

One upcoming fundraising event the Tri-Cities Sunrise Rotary is planning to hold – a “treat and treasure market.” Don Pratt Construction donated leftover construction and building materials – appliances, bathroom fixtures and more – and the rotary is going to hold an online sale sometime later in July. On August 1, they plan to distribute the sold items at a drive-thru pickup event. They plan to release more details in the coming days.