Macker Mania: Not even a flood can stop Gus

NORWICH – Pulling off yet another Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament for the Norwich Family YMCA is like operating a well-oiled machine - even in the face of disaster.

The flood of 2006 wreaked havoc on villages and towns throughout Chenango County, carrying away homes, businesses and, sadly, even a life. But due to the dedication of YMCA employees and tournament volunteers, the more than 10,000 people expected to descened upon the streets of the county seat this weekend might not even notice the underlying stress.

“We do have a diehard group of volunteers,” Norwich Family YMCA Executive Director Jamey Mullen said. “Something drives them.”

Losing their vacation trailer for the second time due to flooding this year and last hasn’t stopped front desk employee Julie (Brown) Wallen and her husband, volunteer Jim Wallen, from giving their time to the tournament. The couple has regularly kept score on the Dream Court - along with daughter Katie - and officiated games for now going on their 11th year.

“Instead of doing Macker this year, they were planning a graduation at the camp this weekend, but because they lost their trailer and had to postpone the party, they said they’d be around again,” Mullen said. “Here’s a paid fireman who took time off for a family event, spent it cleaning up after the flood and still finds time to come in and volunteer for the Y.”

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