The pink uniforms are soon returning to the Knoxville High School gym, with the 12th annual Coaches vs. Cancer event taking place on Jan. 25.
Throughout the years, Coaches vs. Cancer has become one of the largest events in the Knoxville community. Throughout the previous 11 years, the event has raised over $573,000, making it the top program in both the state and nation.
Knoxville girls basketball coach Jim Uitermarkt says the event, which he started on a whim with his wife Angie, is a community effort.
“Not only is this an awesome fundraiser, and we raise a lot of money and give a lot of people hope, but it’s just turned into an event,” Uitermarkt says. “Our community takes a lot of pride in it.”
Coaches vs. Cancer is an all day event, with a silent auction and alumni basketball games beginning in the morning and lasting throughout the day. The concession stand is also open all day, with a barbecue meal by Steve Coon available, as well.
For his players, Uitermarkt says the Coaches vs. Cancer game is often the highlight of the season. In fact, he says some of the players look forward to the game more than senior night.
“It’s the highest attendance by far that we have at any game all year,” Uitermarkt said. “Sometimes there’s no seats available. It’s usually that big.”
The players get involved with the event each year, typically taking part in a project which is donated to the silent auction. This year, the girls are designing garden posts with the help of TAG instructor Lisa Hermsen. Each team member is designing their own post, making every post unique.
Following last year’s Coaches vs. Cancer game, which was rescheduled three different times due to weather, everyone in the community is hoping for better weather conditions on Jan. 25. Although rescheduling last year’s game broke the Panthers’ tradition of playing Chariton, the Chargers are returning for the 12th annual Coaches vs. Cancer game.
Uitermarkt is looking forward to playing Chariton once again. He says that thought the years, members of the Chariton community have gotten involved with the event and its activities.
This year, Uitermarkt is especially looking forward to the ceremony honoring donors and cancer survivors. One of the survivors getting honored is from Chariton, and a mother of one of the basketball players. Her daughter will share the story of her mother’s cancer journey from her own perspective.
“To me, the ceremony is really the kind of thing that puts the face or stamp to why we’re doing what we’re doing,” Uitermarkt said. “We’re here to play each other and we’re kind of competitors, but in addition to that, tonight we’re all here for the same reason.”