The first annual Santa Barbara Special Olympics three-on-three Basketball Tournament Fundraiser was held yesterday, inviting participants to shoot hoops for a good cause.

Dubbed “Hoop it Up for Special Olympics,” the tournament was held at the UCSB Events Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students, community members and corporate groups formed teams of three to five players for the double elimination tournament. There were both men’s and women’s divisions and each team was placed into an appropriate age group division.

The Santa Barbara community, which included UCSB students, boasted 20 teams. Additionally, there were two teams from Santa Clarita. Of the participants, 25 were Special Olympic athletes.

Sara Spataro, Special Olympics Santa Barbara regional director, said the use of the UCSB Events Center was fundamental to the tournament’s success.

“This was our first event for the Special Olympics Tournament and it was a great success,” Spataro said. “We love using the venue at UCSB because it accommodates how many people played and our Special Teams players.”

The event was sponsored by Santa Barbara Bank and Trust, Rabobank and Funds raised at the tournament will help send special teams to participate in the Summer Games on June 12 and 13 at Cal State Long Beach.

Spataro estimated that about 300 special needs children and adults will benefit from the UCSB Commission on Disability Equality’s fundraising efforts, although she did not disclose the total sum collected.

A similar event for special athletes from St. Louis, Ventura, Santa Barbara and other nearby areas is scheduled for May 16. UCSB students who are interested in volunteering for the Special Olympics Tournaments can contact sports manager Ashley Haug at (805) 884-1516.