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Basketball game takes on cancer

FAIRMONT — Whether it’s financial, emotional, or prayerful, adults can find a way to help a family member or friend who is a cancer patient, but young people often are at a loss about how they can be supportive. Coaches vs. Cancer is an annual event at Fairmont High School that provides an opportunity for students to provide that support.

A double-header basketball competition on Saturday against Brookings teams will be the feature for the this year’s Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser. The girls game begins at 2:30 p.m. in the Cardinals’ gym, and tipoff for the boys game is at 4 p.m.

According to Deb Heinrich, who serves with Kelly Quiring as co-coordinators for Coaches vs. Cancer, students received a donation form to take home and use for a family discussion on how cancer has impacted them, their relatives and friends. If the family chooses, they can purchase a paper basketball for $10.

“They can purchase one in memory of someone that’s passed or in honor of someone that’s going through treatment or is a survivor,” she said.

The name of the person being honored is written on the paper basketball, and then basketballs are put up on the gym walls in a show of support.

“It’s a way for the community to come together to honor and memorialize their loved ones. It’s really very touching,” Heinrich said.

During the games, basketball fans will be able to buy raffle tickets, one for $3 or two for $5, for a chance to win a variety of prizes. After writing their name on each ticket, individuals can deposit the ticket in a container in front of their desired prize.

“We have raffle prizes from many, many businesses in town that are so gracious when we ask them,” Heinrich said. “We’ve got some really nice gift baskets, gift certificates, Cardinal wear, stadium chairs, just a ton of really nice things.”

Names of the winners will be drawn during the second game, and prizes can be picked up at that time.

Donations also will be accepted at the event.

“We are working with the Lutz Cancer Center, Martin County Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society. We’ll divide our funds up among those three, and all the money stays local,” Heinrich said.

If people write a check, they can designate which charity will be the recipient. Cash donations and undesignated checks will be split equally among the three.

This is the sixth year for the local Coaches vs. Cancer event, which is a nationwide fundraiser for cancer awareness.

“Last time, we raised about $6,000. Every year, it just gets bigger and bigger,” Heinrich said.

“It’s an event that helps students feel that they can contribute and help in some way. Whether their family purchases a raffle prize or whether they sell basketballs to hang on the wall, they are helping families going through treatment. It’s difficult for young people to know how they can help, but this is a real gentle way.”

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