Sneakers, suits and Lemony Snicket


Fighting cancer with books and basketball

Back row: Denise Rosario, Julie Teeple, Brittany Taylor, Rachel Oswald, Scooter, Nacy Thornsberry, Chayla Hale, Kirsti Wilkerson, Dominique Ivory
Front row: Deanne Tonkin, Whitney Davis, Fiona Sparks, Whitney Widaman

How effective are cartons of books and basketball games against cancer? Quite effective, if the book sales and games occur at Columbia College: a recent Relay for Life book sale raked in more than $2,500 and the annual Coaches vs. Cancer games $1,500.

The Relay for Life team filled two entire Dulany banquet rooms with books of every size, stripe and description – CDs and old 1960s LPs, too! – that eager bookworms snapped up for a record $2557.75. More than one reader hauled away their loot in boxes. The figure is the team's highest book sale total ever, $1100 more than the spring 2008 book sale.

And over at the Southwell Complex, four teams, two men's and two women's, squared off in the fifth annual Coaches vs. Cancer Day. This is a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and National Association of Basketball Coaches.

But the real battle was in the hearts and minds of the audience, not the Cougars and their opponents, Stephens College for the woman and Park University for the men. Lady Cougar head coach Mike Davis, Cougar head coach Bob Burchard, Stephens College coach Dane Pavlovich and Park University head coach Jason Kline addressed fans between games, exhorting them to join the fight against cancer; the coaches invited friends, family members, survivors and anyone else touched by cancer to join them on the court. The court filled with people. Burchard then encouraged everyone to dig deep.

The result? The Columbia College Athletic Department raised $1,500 from ticket sales and individual fan contributions. And thanks to Burchard, who serves as NAIA Coaches Association president, this year marks the first time every single NAIA school participated in program. And yes, Burchard and Kline were wearing tennis shoes with their suits to show their support.

The games weren't too shabby either as the women trounced downtown rival Stephens College 85-47 and the men battled the tenacious Park University Pirates for a 63-62 win. Of the Cougars' six losses, five have been by less than five points.

“It was nice to win one that was in the balance,” Burchard said.

Columbia College's Relay for Life team is also crushing cans for cancer Fridays at 5:00 p.m. in the 10th and Rogers streets parking lot.

Last year, the team raised over $15,000 with over $84,000 in nine years. The team's ten-year goal is $100,000. And all Coaches vs. Cancer participants have raised nearly $45 million since 1993 to help the American Cancer Society fund groundbreaking cancer research, provide up-to-date cancer information and education, advocate for public health policies that benefit communities and deliver services that improve the quality of life for patients and their families.

Has your family been touched by cancer? No need to wait for another event. Go to