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West Valley City Journal

Hee-haw! Donkeys take center court at Hunter fundraiser

May 09, 2018 05:22PM ● By Greg James

The dance company raised the most money in pre-sell tickets and was awarded two extra points in the first-ever donkey basketball fundraiser. (Photo courtesy Chuck Smith)

By Greg James |  [email protected]      

The basketball hit the floor and rolled to the corner of the gymnasium. Several Hunter High students dismounted from their donkeys and began pulling them towards the rolling ball. The stars of the show—the donkeys—stopped in their tracks and, true to character, stood steadfast. The crowd roared with laughter.

Hunter High School hosted its first athletic fundraiser March 23 in the school gymnasium. The donkey basketball game pitted club vs. club and raised nearly $700 towards the school’s athletic department.

“This is one of the best things the school has ever done,” Hunter yearbook advisor Jeff Sillito said. “I hope we keep this going every year.”

The Wolverines athletic director Pam Olson had been approached earlier this school year by Donkey Sports Incorporated about hosting a fundraiser. She decided to look into the possibility and asked the school’s clubs to participate.

“We were worried about the game hurting our gym floor,” Olson said. “We decided to wait until the basketball seasons were over and try it out. It is our first year so we did not earn as much as we hoped, but this is so fun to watch and everyone is just laughing.”

Donkey Sports owner and operator, Bailey Wick, introduced the students to their playing partners and explained the rules of the game in a pre-party meeting. Several students stood surrounding the donkeys until one decided to raise its tail and relieve himself. Cries of “eww” echoed out and the students quickly moved a few feet from their partners covering their noses.

“Yeah, some of the city kids are not sure what to expect,” Wick said. “The donkeys wear rubber shoes that don’t harm the gym floor. It becomes a funny experience watching them herd around. The donkeys even get excited as the crowd laughs and cheers.”

Wolverines represented their clubs in the game. They pre-sold raffle tickets for giveaways and admission. Clubs then formed five player teams to participate in the game. Four players rode the donkeys and had to keep in contact with the animal the entire time on the court while one team member became the center and could pass the ball in after made baskets.

“I am just going to stay on the donkey and score a basket,” dance company team member Annie Smith said. “This is so exciting.”

The donkeys quickly became the stars of the show.

“I was thinking go Pablo (her donkey’s name), go,” senior softball player Brooklyn Jensen said.

The students learned their partner’s names and cheered for all of the teams. The theater team had shirts printed with the famous quote from “Hamilton,” “I am not throwing away my shot.”

The Wolverines student government won the basketball tournament. Other clubs participating included the robotics, dance company, drill team, theater and SBOs.

“We are getting a new basketball floor this summer and so this seemed like a good idea,” Hunter Principal Craig Stauffer said. “The money we earn will go to the athletic department for equipment and scholarships. It has been fun and I hope it is something we can keep doing and make it bigger and bigger.”

Donkey Sports Incorporated is located in Washington and has participated in fundraising games in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nevada and Idaho. They provide clean and healthy animals and all the safety equipment necessary. They have also helped coordinate donkey softball games in other areas. 

“We have approximately 80 animals and we care and maintain them at all time. Each donkey only ‘works’ about three months a year. We (the animal handlers) are here to make sure everyone is safe and has fun,” Wick said.