SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) -- With 14 teams competing at Salem High School this weekend, the third year of the Adam Ward Classic is shaping up to be the biggest yet.
"One of the things I'll never forget that Adam said was a day worth living is a day worth loving," former Salem High School basketball coach Grant Smythers said. "He made Salem High School a better place for everyone."
A better place for students, strangers and a coach.
"Adam was a part of our super fan section, so it was really neat to come out before your game and see 100-150 students at the basketball game and you knew Adam was gonna be front and center. He'd paint his chest maroon and silver for the Salem Spartans and orange and maroon for the Hokies," Smythers said.
The kind of spirit so contagious, not even death could kill it.
"A couple of years ago a friend of mine Hank Lutten who works for the city of Salem, we talked about trying to do something or come up with an event that could raise scholarship money for the Adam Ward Scholarship Find," Smythers said.
Thus, the Adam Ward Classic was born.
"This will be our third year this year. The event's grown every year. Last year were standing room only. We were fortunate enough to have Gate City and Mac McClung here," Smythers said. "It's turned into something pretty awesome and we're really proud of that."
Every expectation exceeded and the waiting list of teams, growing. And that scholarship fund, fulfilling its purpose.
"We've been able to offer scholarships, you know, 10,000 scholarships the past couple of years," Smythers said. "The more players we can find that are Adam like in this world, the better off the world's gonna be."
But, you don't have to be a player to walk away changed by Adam Ward's story.
"When people leave our event, we want them to not only realize that they just enjoyed a wonderful day of basketball, but they just enjoyed a life lesson as well," Smythers said. "And the more people we can have leave our event, go out in to the world and pay it forward. Have a sense of community and be Adam like. The better our entire community, the better the entire Roanoke Valley and the entire world will be."