For the ninth year in a row, UNC Men’s Basketball Coach Roy Williams kicked off the season with his annual fundraiser Fast Break Against Cancer, raising nearly $180,000 for cancer research and treatment at UNC Lineberger and in our community. Since launching the event in 2005, Coach Williams has raised more than $1.5 million for cancer research, treatment and prevention programs. Fast Break Against Cancer is only one of the many ways Coach Williams supports cancer research throughout the year. Additional activities have included $20,000 in proceeds from autographed basketball sales and $12,000 in personal donations following the half-court shooting challenge held last week during Late Night with Roy.
Following welcome and remarks from Woody Durham and Coach Williams, the program featured guest speaker Bill Cowher, former head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cowher opened his remarks by sharing the story of his wife Kaye’s diagnosis and battle with melanoma. Cowher – a former N.C. State football star – added that while his family have always been ‘Wolfpackers’ on the field, they set aside their sports allegiance and chose UNC so that Kaye would receive the best care. After losing his wife to the disease in 2010, Cowher has become an advocate for awareness of this deadly form of skin cancer, launching a public awareness campaign and speaking out about screening and prevention.
Following Cowher, Dr. David Ollila, co-director of UNC Lineberger’s Skin Cancer and Melanoma Program, then spoke of the significant strides made in the last several years in the areas of research and drug development for melanoma. UNC Lineberger Director Shelley Earp then followed up with a thank you to Coach Williams and Woody Durham, and all of the supporters and donors who have made such a difference at UNC through Fast Break and other community events.
Following the close of the silent auction, Coach Williams and Woody Durham kicked off the live auction. The final item – the chance for a lucky fan to be “Tar Heel for a Day” and shadow the men’s basketball team – incited a bidding war between two attendees, prompting Coach Williams to offer a second slot. The live auction totals contributed $36,500 towards the final amount raised for cancer research and treatment.
A special thanks to presenting sponsor Atlantic Packaging and to all of our generous sponsors.