Oct. 25, 2012
LOS ANGELES - The fifth annual `Dribble for the Cure,' held at the UCLA campus on Sunday, Oct. 21, set a donation net revenue record of $155,395.74 toward the effort to help find a cure for children's cancer.
Approximately 540 people participated as the UCLA's men's and women's basketball teams and athletic department once again joined forces with Bruin basketball great John Vallely, the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (PCRF) and the Cancer Research Program at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA for the fund-raising event.
`Dribble for the Cure' has grown each year, and over the five years, over 3,500 participants have contributed $531,395.74 in the fight against children's cancer. Proceeds, as in past years, will help support the treatment for pediatric cancer patients at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA.
Starting at Drake Stadium and finishing at Collins Court in the Wooden Center, participants dribbled basketballs on a 1.2-mile course across the UCLA campus. At the conclusion of the event, participants were given a unique opportunity to meet and pose for photographs with members of the 2012-13 UCLA women's and men's basketball teams. UCLA student-athletes from other sports teams were also present to participate in the Dribble.
"It is very inspiring to witness the tremendous outpouring of support in the effort to find new therapies for children with cancer," said Dr. Theodore B. Moore, Division Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA. "We at Mattel Children's Hospital are deeply grateful to the teams at UCLA Athletics, the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation and Team Vallely for the formidable effort that goes into putting this event together to fund cancer research and treatment and to increase the quality of life for our young patients. As is evident in our honorary captains, it makes a huge difference in their lives."
Jeri Wilson, Executive Director of the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (PCRF), spoke about the event's meaningful synergy. "The families so appreciate the interaction between the student-athletes, their fans and children fighting to overcome pediatric cancer," said Wilson. "When the children battling cancer comment on how special they feel because all these people showed up to support them, that's when we know we have done a good thing. We are so grateful for the continuing support of the UCLA Athletic Department and the Bruin women's and men's basketball teams and staff."
Ben Howland, in his tenth season as the Bruin men's head basketball coach, has been involved with the Dribble event since 2008. "Dribble for the Cure is one of the annual highlight events for our team," said Howland. "Our program has been involved with the Dribble since its inception, and every year the event has continued to raise more money in our efforts to find a cure for children's cancer. Setting a record last Sunday by raising over $155,000 is quite an accomplishment and a tribute to all those who participated and donated."
For Cori Close, this was her second event, as she became the Bruin women's head basketball coach before the 2011-12 season. "Dribble for the Cure is such a great event for our team to be involved with," said Close. "In our continued quest to conquer children's cancer, it is great to know that a record of over $155,000 was raised at last Sunday's Dribble. All of us here at UCLA Athletics would like to thank all the participants for their involvement and record-setting donations. "
For many years, Vallely and his family have been on the front line in the battle against cancer. A starting guard on John Wooden's UCLA 1969 and 1970 NCAA Championship men's basketball teams and a 2006 inductee into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame, Vallely is a two-time stem cell transplant cancer survivor and a 20-year member of the PCRF Board of Directors. In 1991, John and Karen Vallely lost their daughter Erin to cancer at age 12.
"Many people have contributed to the overwhelming success of the fifth annual Dribble for the Cure," said Vallely. "My personal thanks to UCLA Basketball, all of the support staff, every participant and, finally, all our wonderful sponsors for making our event a perfect day."
Sunday's Dribble honored Ken Heitz, a starting guard/forward on John Wooden's 1967/1968/1969 UCLA NCAA Championship men's basketball teams, who died earlier this year at the age of 65 after a battle with cancer. Heitz and Vallely were the starting guards on Coach Wooden's 1969 UCLA NCAA Championship squad.
"Last Sunday we had a good turnout and record donations to fund the best pediatric cancer research for these children who cannot help themselves. On behalf of the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation and Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, thank you!"