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Avery Athletics kept a point tally during its Coaches vs. Cancer night on a tote board and donated $316, $1 for every point scored in each of the four basketball games played on Thursday, Jan. 24, against Thomas Jefferson Academy. Photo by Jamie Shell

Originally published: 2013-02-14 16:43:30
Last modified: 2013-02-14 16:43:30

Hoops games raise funds for cancer awareness

Jamie Shell / (

Avery High School recently held a pair of events during home basketball games to help raise awareness and dollars for cancer research.

During its games on Thursday, Jan. 24, against Thomas Jefferson Academy, Avery Athletics sponsored Coaches vs. Cancer Night, a national initiative with more than 4,000 high schools and colleges participating.

Vikings men's basketball coaches, which includes a pair of cancer survivors, donned suits and shoes during their contests to bring to the forefront and raise funds for American Cancer Society to fight cancer.

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, against Madison, it was the ladies' turn, as AHS girls varsity basketball coaches and team members wore pink for "Hoops For a Cure" night, raising $401 to benefit Kay Yow Foundation for cancer research.

Avery High School Director of Athletics Jay Smith explained that during both nights donations were collected. In addition, for each point scored by each competing school during both junior varsity and varsity games, Avery Athletics donated $1.

Coaches vs. Cancer evening raised $467, with $316 coming from matching funds through the athletic department. Smith discussed how the funds are designated to stay within the county to help benefit local individuals who are fighting the disease.

"We set up an Avery Athletics team through Avery County Relay for Life, and the money goes into the Avery Athletics team funds raised for that event," Smith said. "Our local account will that way directly benefit from the funds and count toward our county's fundraising total for the year."

Smith, himself a cancer survivor, related the importance of taking opportunities to assist in eliminating the disease and its impact of people both around the world and in the local community.
Avery Athletics has held special evenings among many of its sports teams to shed light on cancer awareness and intends to continue to expand that initiative to recognize multiple forms of cancer and local lives affected.

"After a number of discussions, we've decided to continue to add to our local Relay for Life fund with spring sports such as Avery baseball and Avery softball's 'Beat Cancer with a Bat' events," Smith explained. "Maybe instead of wearing pink, teams may wear purple or another color symbolic of a specific form of cancer to bring awareness to that form. I think it helps with awareness, as the disease hits close to home with one of our own teachers at Avery battling cancer. We definitely want to do our part."

AHS intends to continue holding annual events within its sports season for the foreseeable future, and Smith hopes that the local community and rival schools may work alongside Avery to add to the effectiveness of its fundraising campaigns.

"This is something we're going to continue to do every year. It hasn't been consistently done with both the men's and women's teams in the past, so we're going to try to start it as a traditional annual event," Smith added. "We have one united goal of raising funds for cancer awareness. It's a good way for us to give back to our coaches and kids who have been touched by cancer. I'd like to see these events be a trend at our other area high schools, where we could at some point challenge one another to raise the most funds for this cause. I also hope we can get to the point where local businesses will commit to pitching in and matching funds that we raise and get them onboard and maybe match points for a game or multiple games."

To partner with Avery Athletics in its cancer awareness initiatives or for more information, call Smith at (828) 733-0151.

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