Claire Anderson, contributing writer 

 

 

On Saturday, August 13, community members gathered and competed in a 3v3 basketball tournament to celebrate and honor 10-year old Dawson Pugmire of Wellsville, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year from an arteriovenous malformation.

Dawson was known by many for his kindness toward others and his ability to make them feel important and seen.

“It has been very humbling to us to see the many lives our little man has touched,” Dawson’s father, Nate Pugmire, said. “Dawson had many friends, and since his passing we have heard several stories from his friends about the way that he treated them. He could make a friend out of anyone and always included others.”

He was also very passionate about sports and was rarely seen without a ball in his hands.

“We always had to pull Daws off the court,” his mother, Jamie Pugmire, said. “He loved to play basketball.”

When Kiesha Baldwin, a close friend of the Pugmire family, mentioned an idea to put on a basketball tournament as a way to honor Dawson and give back to the community, there was no hesitation.

“It took one phone call and a couple of text messages and I already had a small army that was ready to jump in,” Kiesha said. “There was a lot of love from an amazing committee and a ton of volunteers that made this dream a reality.”

The event was held at Mountain Crest High School just two days after what would have been Dawson’s 11th birthday. Fifty-one teams competed in the tournament, including a wide variety of age groups and abilities.

“We wanted to open it up to everyone, not just those who are currently playing competitive basketball, although they were invited too!” Kiesha said. “This was for the young, old, current players, and ‘used to could’s’. We had teams in all ages and brackets. It was great.”

The tournament lasted all day, with basketball being played from eight in the morning to almost nine o’clock that evening. Approximately 200 players competed, with teams coming from as far as Eagle Mountain, Utah.

“It made us very emotional to see so many people take time out of their Saturday, on a busy summer weekend, to come and support,” Jamie said. “I loved that there were kids who came to play that didn’t consider themselves ‘basketball players,’ but still came to do it for Dawson.”

There was also participation from former Utah State University (USU) great, Jaycee Carroll, along with some current Aggie basketball players. Anyone who was up for the challenge was welcome to play against Jaycee and the college athletes in a game of lightning, a 3 point contest, and a free-throw competition. Mason Falslev, Isaac Johnson, and Taylor Funk from USU Basketball came and there was also a raffle going on with some great prizes.

Former Utah State University basketball star and Wellsville local with three-point contest winners.

“The overall feeling of the community coming together to honor Dawson was tangible,” Kiesha said. “I was awestruck. While there was still some fun, intense competition going on, you couldn’t deny the unifying bond and reverence that was in the gym. It was a gym full of family, friends, teammates, and all kinds of support coming together for a common good.”

The Pugmire family plans to donate the proceeds from the tournament to Primary Children’s Hospital and to Wellsville City. They would also like to use future proceeds to help other families in the community who may be in need.

“When we were at Primary Children’s Hospital, our sweet nurse brought Dawson a soft minky blanket that had been donated to  families going through a hard time. It meant so much to us,” Jaime said. “Now we will be able to donate soft minky blankets back to Primary Children’s. We also would love to give back to our town by trying to help restore the basketball court by the old elementary school. We would love to see kids and families continue to come together as a community by spending time at the basketball court.”

The Pugmires hope that this will become an annual event held each August, around the time of Dawson’s birthday.

“I would like to see this event grow each year and continue to help others in need,” Nate said. “Thank you to our family, friends, sponsors, and all other volunteers that helped to make this possible! Dawson would have loved every second of it. I’m confident he was watching from a distance with a smile on his face.”