Knoxville — As of this morning (Friday, Jan. 4), a total of $3,275 in cash donations has already been received for Knoxville's Coaches vs. Cancer event, scheduled for Jan. 19. Cash donations are just the beginning of the fundraising events taking place on and around that day.
Knoxville girls' basketball coach Jim Uitermarkt has led Coaches vs. Cancer events for the past several years. However, he does not do it all on his own. His players, and community members, have stepped up and organized events on their own
A bowling fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 5, at Fairlane Bowl in Knoxville. The event is scheduled from 5-9 p.m., for a cost of $15 per bowler. Entrants into this event are still being accepted. This event was organized by basketball manager Katie Utterback and her mother, Darbie.
Ashley Hawkshead and Katie Cunningham have organized a can redemption drive as a fundraiser. Posters for the collection have been placed in different areas around Knoxville.
Cunningham is also organizing the alumni basketball tournament, which will be held during the day of the event.
Jerry Ayers with the Knoxville Recreation Center is organizing a swimming fundraiser for the day of the event. If you would like to volunteer to swim or to make a pledge or another donation, call the center at 641-828-0580.
With these efforts comes the generosity of the town in donating items to be auctioned off Jan. 19 as well. All proceeds from the silent auction will be donated to the American Cancer Society.
Approximately 150 items have been donated thus far, ranging from autographed sports memorabilia to Nationals tickets to hunting equipment and more.
A new event planned for the Coaches vs. Cancer evening will be a three-point basket contest. In this, one of the basketball players will be challenged by a contestant to see who can make the most shots in an amount of time. This is being funded by Craig Ford of Pella Motors, who donated $1,000 to be used for an unspecified purpose.
As mentioned on several occasions, Knoxville has been the top Coaches vs. Cancer community in the Midwest for the past two years. The American Cancer Society has taken notice, and Uitermarkt said he received a call from a top official within the organization. The official is curious about why Knoxville has seen such successful fundraising, unmatched in the Midwest.
Uitermarkt is grateful for all of the support the community has shown through the years, but what inspires him the most is the initiative shown by his players. Even for those who have graduated and moved on, the experience of being a part of a community-wide fundraiser stays with them.
"They walk away from high school understanding the value of getting involved," Uitermarkt said. He has heard from recent alumni, who have contacted him to wish him well with the event.
Other highlights from this year's Coaches vs. Cancer event will include a memory wall (an area for one to write a dedication to someone he or she knows who has been afflicted with cancer), pink ice cream, dinner by Steve Coon, a special performance by the K-Line Dance Team and this year, every player - Knoxville boys and girls, as well as Chariton - will have the name of someone who has or had cancer they would like to dedicate the game to. The dedications will be listed in the game's program with the players' names.
Even though Uitermarkt has been at the center of Coaches vs. Cancer for years now, he remains enthusiastic about the event every year. As the event draws nearer, the excitement builds.
If you would like to order a shirt or make a donation, email Uitermarkt at email@example.com. Shirt orders will be taken through Jan. 12.
Look for more on Coaches vs. Cancer in the coming weeks.