A memorial basketball tournament is planned in memory of a Chandler Unified School District employee who died in a car crash in late July. 

Shirley Denning, 36, a special-needs educator at Hamilton High School, and Alexander Iafrate, 23, a custodian at Chandler High School, were killed in a crash on U.S. 93. 

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Iafrate was driving north on U.S. 93 about 4:38 a.m. when the vehicle crossed the center line and collided head on with a southbound semitruck. 

Scooby Butler, a club basketball coach friend of Denning, organized the basketball tournament that will take place on Aug. 19-20 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the gyms at both Hamilton High School and Chandler High School.  

The price for a single team is $250 and $225 for multiple teams. First- and second-place trophies will be awarded. 

Funds raised from this tournament will benefit Denning’s two children for daily expenses and college trust funds, Butler said.  

Butler said he trained Denning’s daughter in basketball and became close to her and Denning as a result. He created this basketball tournament as a way to give back to the “mom” of his team. 

“Shirley has been my team mom for seven years, to the point where … she’s not even considered team mom, she’s considered family to me now … I named my daughter after her daughter,” Butler said. 

Butler hopes people will have an open heart to give back and have some fun at the tournament.  

“That’s why I’m doing this in contribution of her cause. It’s literally what she would want us to be doing, to continue moving forward and playing basketball,” Butler said.  

Anyone who wishes to participate should contact Butler at 480-295-5252 or at [email protected].


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