Pratt Student Leads Record-Breaking Charity Effort

The longest basketball game in history (Credit: Greg Richmond)

Students from Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill met on Jan. 14 in the longest basketball game in history at UNC’s Fetzer Gym. Pratt junior David Walker toiled for months behind the scenes to lead Duke to the charity event, which broke a Guinness world record and raised $60,000 for Hoop Dreams Basketball Academy. The Durham-based, non-profit organization provides unique opportunities for children with life-threatening illnesses to develop socially and physically through basketball and other athletic training.

The non-religious event represented a collaboration between the Newman Catholic Centers at UNC and Duke. Senior Greg Richmond, who is credited with the original idea, led the basketball marathon effort for UNC.

David Walker, director of Duke's basketball marathon effort

“The best part was seeing this event from beginning to end,” said Walker, a mechanical engineering and materials science major from Nashville, Tenn. “In June, it was just me and Greg, and by the end of January there were 450 volunteers and $60,000.”

From early Saturday until Monday evening, teams made up of 12 students from each school competed for 57 hours, 17 minutes and 41 seconds straight, toppling the Guinness record of 33 hours and 35 minutes set in Germany last year. Duke won the game with a final score of 3,684 to 3,444.

Walker and Richmond drummed up the support required to make the event a success, capitalizing on the long-standing basketball rivalry between Duke and UNC. Walker said that the most difficult challenge was getting people – in particular corporate sponsors and the major media -- to take the event seriously.

Nonetheless, their efforts were met with serious support from the sports equipment company Spalding and its “Never Flat” brand basketball and from Duke University Health System. Spalding donated the jerseys and balls for the teams along with a check for $15,000, while Duke’s Health System kicked in another $10,000. Each of the players also raised $1,000.

Aero donated air mattresses for the players to sleep on the sidelines, and Red Bull, along with other companies and local restaurants, provided the food, Walker said.

ABC's Good Morning America interviews Duke's Brendan Hayes and UNC's Anna Marshall on the sidelines. (Credit: Greg Richmond)

The game, which featured an opening tip-off by former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, also garnered local and national media attention from Sports Illustrated, the Herald-Sun, the Charlotte Observer, the Associated Press and ABC News, among other print and television outlets.

A re-match is in the works for next year, Walker said, although the teams will not attempt to break the new record. Walker said he will leave the directing to others, but will gladly serve as a consultant for the 2006-2007 effort.

A competition to see which team can raise the most money for Hoop Dreams is still ongoing. Donors can contribute on behalf of Team Duke at