Sometimes, in an effort to help fund medical research for a devastating illness, the best way to do it is to have a little fun.

That’s the philosophy behind the endeavor Chandra Ring and her family have put together to raise money for brain tumor research, in memory of her sister, Hannah, who passed away from brain cancer in 2012 at only 32 years old. Inspired by Hannah’s love of college basketball, UCONN’s Huskies in particular, Ring created a March Madness Bracket Fundraiser around the NCAA tournament, called “Hoops for Hannah.”

Last year’s effort raised just over $5,000, which Ring donated to three non-profits dedicated to eradicating brain tumors, learning more about this type of cancer and helping patients in treatment—the Musella Foundation, Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure and the American Brain Tumor Association.

We asked Ring to tell us a bit more about who Hannah was:

“Hannah was never daunted in her courageous, 7-year battle with a brain tumor, simply refusing to be sick. Hannah loved pottery, fitness, Christmas, UCONN basketball and her dogs. She enjoyed a confident sense of style. Hannah valued friendship, honesty, competitiveness and, above all else, her family. She was an active member of Phi Mu at Drexel University, where she earned her degree in business and marketing in 2002. She was an enthusiastic member of The Junior League of Boston, serving multiple roles for them.

hannah and chandra ring

Hannah was the third of five children raised in Litchfield County. Hannah was my younger sister and growing up we fought, like all siblings, but came to be incredibly close as we grew up. Upon graduation, Hannah even lived in a small apartment just outside Boston with Kevin and I. It was tight quarters, but we honestly had a blast. She was always a phone call away for an honest opinion, sound advice or a hilarious anecdote from her day depending on what was needed at the time. Hannah also loved ice cream and we celebrate her birthday with ice cream and shared memories.”

c&Hwedding

Chandra Ring, left, with her sister, Hannah, in whose memory Ring started “Hoops for Hannah,” a fundraiser to benefit brain tumor research and patient care.

Ring and her family are active fundraisers throughout the rest of the year as well, taking part in multiple 5K races, half-marathons and walks for various organizations devoted to brain tumor research. But, Ring says the NCAA March Madness fundraiser in particular really honors the memory of her sister and something Hannah really loved.

“Hannah grew up in Litchfield County, and watched UCONN basketball throughout her life. I cannot remember a year my family didn’t complete NCAA Basketball Tournament brackets, both for bragging rights and bookstore gift cards. This time of year brought our family together, when life slowed and we all watched tournament basketball. Back before picture-in-picture TVs, it wasn’t impossible to have two televisions stacked in the family room so we could watch two tournament games at a time. She always loved UCONN and enjoyed watching their basketball games and even as our family came together during the end of her illness basketball could often be found on the TV in her Winthrop, MA apartment,” says Ring.

hannah

This will be Ring’s third year running “Hoops for Hannah,” and while mostly only friends and family have taken part up until now, she hopes to make a bigger impact by inviting her fellow Wilton residents to participate.

It’s simple to play. There’s no entry fee, only whatever each person would like to donate. One hundred percent of the money raised is donated to the three charities, and Hannah’s family bestows a $1,000 first prize for the tournament winner.

Now that the NCAA teams have been selected, brackets are live on cbssports.com, and participants can login using that link. Players need to create a personal account on cbssports.com to get an ID and then log in to the “Hoops For Hannah” tournament using the password sammyhusky.

Organizers ask that all entrants make a donation in an amount of their choosing, either via PayPal to hoopsforhannah@comcast.net, or by mailing a check made out to Hoops for Hannah to P.O. Box 964, North Canaan, CT 06018. Of course anyone wishing only to make a donation rather than complete a bracket is welcome to do so too.

Brackets must be completed before the tournament begins on Tuesday, March 15 in order to participate in Hoops for Hannah.

For more details on the Hoops for Hannah tournament, visit the family’s Facebook page.

Here’s a bit more information on each of the three organizations that are recipients of the money raised:

The Musella Foundation for Brain Tumor Research & Information is run by a doctor whose family has been touched too often by brain tumors. Their website is a tremendous resource for patients and loved ones, as they constantly seek innovative research ideas to sponsor.

Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2) was founded by a brain tumor patient and works to speed the time from concept to treatment by connecting the ideas and results of researchers across many disciplines.

American Brain Tumor Association is a national organization that funds all aspects of brain tumor research, and also provides education and information for all ages and tumor types.