The Johns Hopkins women will host the first Lacrosse Coaches vs. Cancer event Wednesday night when they meet Loyola in a nationally-televised 5 p.m. game at Homewood Field.
A basketball event until now, Coaches vs. Cancer aims to raise awareness, funds and advocacy to combat the disease that has affected many basketball coaches, from the death of North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano in 1993 to the cancer diagnosis of North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell last year. It emerged as a collaboration between the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the American Cancer Society with events held at college and high school basketball games.
Blue Jays coach Janine Tucker was eager to bring the event to lacrosse.
"We said we would be happy to help them raise awareness and raise donations," Tucker said. "It's a TV game (on ESPNU), so hopefully we'll be able to raise even more awareness. Cancer has affected my life. I lost my mom to non-Hodgkins lymphoma, so we really wanted to be involved and help because it's affected so many of our lives."
Tucker said the idea for Wednesday's event came from Jackie Bowes, a Relay for Life specialist for the American Cancer Society.
"We're just looking for new avenues and we know lacrosse is so big especially at Johns Hopkins," Bowes said. "We're looking for new ways to outreach new people to become involved. We haven't had a lot of the sports teams invovled in Relay for Life, so we're just trying to reach new people and have a new audience to show up for the Relay for Life that the American Cancer Society does."
Often lasting 24 hours, Relay for Life events feature teams that walk or run, often around a local track or park, to raise money for cancer research, remember those lost to cancer and celebrate cancer survivors.
Last year, Bowes said, the Relay for Life at Johns Hopkins raised $53,000. This year's goal is $60,000 with the money raised Wednesday night added to the amount raised at the April 5 Relay for Life on Keyser Quad on the Hopkins campus.
"We're hoping some of the people (at Wednesday's game) are willing to start relay teams," Bowes said. "We're hosting it on Saturday night, so hopefully we can get a few more sports teams involved this year."
Wednesday night at Homewood Field, American Cancer Society officials will have a table near the entrance to provide information about Coaches vs. Cancer and Relay for Life. They will take donations and sell luminaria bags which have votive candles inside to be lit at Relay for Life in remembrance of someone who died of cancer.
Bowes said another Lacrosse Coaches vs. Cancer event is scheduled for the UMBC men's game vs. Johns Hopkins on March 8 at UMBC Stadium.