Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: ‘3’s for Z’ shooting contest honors memory of Palmetto High grad

Getting ready for the Miracle Games and “3’s for Z,” in memory of Zander Standiford, are Kimberly Standiford, Matt Hellinger, Jonathan Roth and Jayden Hardaway. Zander’s high school jersey has been signed by NBA stars.
Getting ready for the Miracle Games and “3’s for Z,” in memory of Zander Standiford, are Kimberly Standiford, Matt Hellinger, Jonathan Roth and Jayden Hardaway. Zander’s high school jersey has been signed by NBA stars.

“Love can build a bridge between your heart and mine,” the lyrics of an old country song by The Judds, come to mind for the efforts behind the eighth annual Miracle Games 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament.

The upcoming event raises funds to benefit Miami’s Transplant Foundation with the mission “to help the community by providing assistance for transplant patients and their families, educating the public on organ and tissue donation, and funding transplant research.”

And this year’s Miracle Games will help bring back the “3’s for Z” three-point contest that was started in 2011 in memory of Palmetto High School graduate Zander Standiford, who died at age 18 in 2009.

“Zander touched the lives of many,” said his mom Kimberly Standiford.

The Miracle Games and “3’s for Z” will start at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively, on Feb. 21 at the Palmetto High School Gym, 7460 SW 118th St. in Pinecrest. Singles, pairs, and teams of three are welcome to join in. Singles and pairs will be placed onto teams before the event starts.

Palmetto sophomores and student athletes active in organizing the event are Jonathan Roth, Matt Hellinger and Jayden Hardaway. Matt said community service hours will be given to student participants and volunteers. Moms Amy Roth, Nanci Hellinger and Nikki Hardaway are co-chairs of the Miracle Games.

Admission to participate is $10 for the tournament and $10 for the “3’s for Z” contest. Planned are prizes, T-shirts, refreshments, and a raffle of items generously donated by local businesses.

Winners of the two contests will receive basketballs signed by Jayden’s dad, retired NBA star Penny Hardaway, and New York Knicks shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (The pros share a name but are not related.)

Hardaway Jr. was Zander’s close friend. They met on the court in middle school and continued to love playing basketball together at Palmetto High.

During his college years playing for the University of Michigan Wolverines, Hardaway Jr. made sure Zander stayed on the court in memory. Before games, he would write “R.I.P. Z33” on his shoe.

The tournament and contest are open to all ages — boys, girls, men and women. For more, call Matt at 305-322-9282, Jonathan at 305-951-1919, or Jayden at 786-385-9112. And for details, links to make donations, and other ways to participate, visit

“We got involved because it’s a good cause,” said Matt. “We wanted to help out in the community.”

Kimberly Standiford said her goal is to gather friends, family and the basketball community to have fun and to raise money and awareness for the Transplant Foundation. She also wants to celebrate and honor her son.

“Just like Zander,” she said, “the Transplant Foundation has touched so many families in so many loving ways.”


Congratulations to the winners and finalists of the 27th annual Junior Orange Bowl Creative Writing Contest that focused on the theme “What Can We Do About Climate Change?” The recent awards ceremony was held at Books & Books with author and former educator Steve Liebowitz as guest speaker. The contest was open to eighth-grade students in South Florida.

First place went to Rebecca Ringler from Miami Beach’s RASG Hebrew Academy; second place went to Shani McCarley, also from RASG Hebrew Academy; and Claudia Ruiz from Hialeah Gardens Middle School won the third-place prize.

Winning teachers Jennifer Ohana of RASG Hebrew Academy and Odell Rivas from Hialeah Gardens Middle School also were honored at the ceremony.

The Creative Writing Contest is co-sponsored each year by the South Florida Writers Association. Creative Writing Committee Chair Samantha Jones served as emcee at the event and the winning essays were read aloud to the audience. The winners and teachers were awarded prizes by the Creative Writing Committee sponsors including the South Florida Writers Association, Books & Books, Friends of the Everglades, HistoryMiami, and Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Also attending the ceremony were the Junior Orange Bowl Royal Court Queen Emma Gillian, Princess Rebekah Marie Gadea, Princess Isabella Morales, and Little Sister Gwendolyn Odin. Junior Orange Bowl Mascot Jobie added to the exciting event.

You can read the winning essays on the Junior Orange Bowl website at and the South Florida Writers Association website at


Football fans can bowl with some of their favorite University of Miami players at the UM Sports Hall of Fame fourth annual Celebrity Bowling Tournament from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 23 at Splitsville in the Shops at Sunset Place in South Miami. The event raises funds to benefit the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, as well as the UMSHoF.

Hurricane football great and 2014 UMSHoF inductee Clinton Portis will serve as host of this year’s event. The cost for a team starts at $400 for four bowlers, Regular Sponsor Lanes are $1,000, and Premium Sponsor Lanes are $1,500.

Individual bowlers can participate for $125 each, and social tickets can be purchased for $50 for adults and $25 for children under 12. For more, contact UMSHoF Executive Director John Routh at 305-284-2775.

There is no deadline to get involve, but space allows only for 26 teams. Social tickets should be available if the bowling is sold out.

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at