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Memorial tournament celebrates athletes

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RONAN — On Friday, Oct. 14, athletes from the five valleys area gathered to honor the life of Alex Braun at the second Alex Braun Memorial Basketball Tournament put on by the Special Olympics of Montana.

Alex Braun was a young Missoula athlete who passed away in the summer of 2021. Though tennis was his primary sport, he volunteered as a basketball coach for Special Olympics for three years while he was in high school.

“I think his family wanted something that would honor his memory in a way that was impactful to a lot of athletes, and kind of establish something over time,” commented Kelly Mulcaire, the communications coordinator with the Special Olympics Five Valleys Area. “(The family’s) generosity really has allowed our area to establish this tournament, bring athletes from all over for basketball.”

While this is the second year of the tournament, it will be the first that returns to full activities with athletes from across the Five Valleys area – from Polson to Hamilton – competing in person since COVID.

With another tournament coming up in Butte for athletes from all over the state, Mulcaire said the memorial tournament was a great way to get extra community involvement locally. It was also helpful for getting the athletes in the tournament atmosphere before they had to Butte, she said.

The event saw a large turnout of athletes and had ample volunteers as well. Still, Mulcaire stated they could always use more. “We have a lot of really dedicated volunteers that are involved on a long-term basis. I think as we’re coming out of the covid times and doing more events… we’d love to see the community come and kind of get back into that day-of volunteering,” she said. 

To learn more about volunteering, or to be placed on a list of contacts for single-day events, visit their website at and look under the tab for the Five Valleys Area. They can also be messaged on Facebook at “We love having volunteers, and I think volunteers love coming to those events because it’s so fun to get to see the athletes in their element. It’s probably one of the best parts of volunteering,” Mulcaire added. 

According to the organization, they hope to have the memorial tournament back in Ronan next year. Stated Mulcaire, “(The Brauns) got the fund going. That’ll establish this as something we can have for 5 Valley Area athletes for years to come, hopefully.” 

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