March Madness fun turns charitable with donations to CCChampions

Proceeds will benefit CCChampions, an organization that pairs sick children and professional athletes

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, March 18, 2013

When March Madness hits, most basketball fanatics are busy building their brackets in hopes of making a buck. But Lex Rofes ’13 has put a twist on this time-honored tradition by running a pool, the proceeds of which will go to the charity CCChampions. The organization, founded by Sidney Kushner ’13, a friend of Rofes’, helps form meaningful and enduring friendships between children with cancer and professional athletes, The Herald previously reported.

The NCAA announced the teams in the tournament last night on “Selection Sunday.” Participants — and enthusiasm — will build through March as the 68 teams in the tournament are chiseled down to the Final Four and one is ultimately crowned champion.

Participants can donate and customize their own scoring systems online  at, which will allow as many people as possible to participate in this “super fun and large pool,” Rofes said.

Rofes has five years of experience running charity brackets — he began in high school starting with a community service project. He credits his mother for helping him come up with the idea.

“I decided that instead of money going to the winner, like typical brackets, it would go to a charity,” Rofes said. “A lot of people like following college basketball this time of the year, but some feel uncomfortable betting on it, so a lot of people were into this idea.”

For those who do not care about college basketball, this is a great way to donate to charity, he said, and for those who do not give to charity often, it is a way to have fun for a good cause.

For Rofes’ first two years running charity brackets, proceeds benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization that seeks to help children with “life-threatening illnesses” realize their dreams. For the past two years, Rofes donated the money to ‘nPlay Foundation, a charity fighting childhood obesity, raising just over $10,000.

Rofes, who is Jewish, explained that in Judaism individuals are required to give 10 percent of their incomes to charity every year, which is difficult for many college students who do not earn regular incomes.

“For me, it’s spending 10 percent of my time donating to a cause, but I enjoy doing it — it’s not just required of me,” Rofes said. “That’s how I feel like I’m doing my part. It’s not hard for me.”

Rofes said Kushner and CCChampions are doing great work and making a large impact.

“Over the past year and a half (Kushner) has really built up an infrastructure, and I know for a fact he’s about to really kill it,” Rofes said, adding that he plans to continue to donate funds from future brackets to the organization. “From a bang-for-my-buck perspective, I realized that helping his organization could go a long way.”

“It’s an unbelievable service to the kids and their families who are spending so much time in the hospital and working through this tough time,” he said.

Rofes said he hopes to reach the ambitious goal of raising $10,000 this year with help from a friend at Washington University in St. Louis, Elan Baskir, who is running a smaller scale bracket to benefit CCChampions. The Brown Sports Business club has helped spread the word in emails to friends, family and others to encourage people to make a bracket and donate.

“What Lex and Sidney are doing is truly special and allows the excitement and fun of March Madness to help a great cause,” said Connor Sakwa ’15, co-president of the club.

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