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Through Tourney Sponsorship, HHC Backs Community, Dreams

August 18, 2023

Basketball enthusiast and Navy veteran Peter Higgins founded the Greater Hartford Pro-Am tournament in 1997 with a meager budget and big dreams.

In the 25 years since, he and supporters like Anthony Price, Pro-Am commissioner, have brought free, community-centered basketball fun to cities across Connecticut. This year, with support from Hartford HealthCare, the tournament returned to the capital area after several years in places like Middletown.

“Big shouts to (Hartford HealthCare) for coming on board and seeing the vision,” Higgins says.


Through August, talented players compete on the courts at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford.

“Hartford has always had a very strong, healthy basketball relationship,” notes one city native at the tournament. “It means a great deal for not just the kids but also for tradition.”

“It’s been a staple for many years,” says Higgins about the Pro-Am, which, through the years, hosted the likes of Ray Allen and Kevin Ollie before they became well-known.

To kick off the tournament, Hartford HealthCare sponsored a community day at which more than 400 attendees were offered free screenings and health information during breaks in the on-court action. These included:

  • Teams from the Digestive Health Institute dispelling myths about colorectal cancer.
  • Specialists from the Heart & Vascular Institute measuring blood pressure and providing information about heart disease and stroke prevention.
  • Sports medicine specialists through the Campus Care Program sharing resources about athlete rehabilitation.
  • Center for Healthy Aging representatives offering information about resources to help older residents stay healthy and safe.
  • Team members from Neighborhood Health spreading the word about upcoming back-to-school events that will include free haircuts and new backpacks for families in need.

Other community supporters – including a halftime performance by the youth-mentorship and dance organization The Gifted Ones – also made the event possible.

Hartford HealthCare President and CEO Jeff Flaks says the system’s participation in events such as the Greater Hartford Pro-Am reflects the identity of the healthcare system. HHC, he adds, is enthusiastically looking forward to supporting the Greater Hartford Pro-Am for its 26th outing next year.

“It brings the community together and celebrates our community and the amazing people,” he told the Hartford Courant of the Pro-Am, adding that the services offered on community day means “we’re helping people…our goal is to make sure our services are in the community. We were able to help a lot of people and we gave them information, and we then follow up with them to get them into the healthcare delivery system.”