Hoopin’ for Hope: Fundraiser culminates with game

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Students and faculty at Oak Mountain High School are on a mission.

For the second straight year, the Eagles community has banded with Vestavia Hills High School to sponsor the &8220;Hoops for Hope&8221; program, a week-long event that is aimed at raising money and awareness for the American Cancer Society.

During the 2005 fund-raiser, the two schools banded together to raise $18,000.

This year&8217;s event, which began last Thursday, culminated Tuesday night when the Eagles and Rebels boys basketball squads came together at OMHS for the &8220;Hoops for Hope&8221; basketball game.

The fund-raiser has a special place in the hearts of two people at Oak Mountain &8212; men&8217;s head basketball coach Jerry North and student John Hicks.

North was diagnosed with cancer in August 2004 and went through more than seven months of rigid chemotherapy.

Tests performed in May and October both came back negative for signs of a relapse, and North said he could not be more grateful for programs like &8220;Hoops for Hope&8221;

&8220;It&8217;s really just a good thing to do,&8221; he said.

&8220;&8220;Not only is the raising-the-money part good, but making people aware of the disease is also very important. For me it definitely hits close to home and for a number of people at our school including John Hicks as well.&8221;

Hicks was diagnosed with the disease shortly before his freshman year at OMHS.

He played basketball as a ninth grader and continues his battle against cancer.

North said Hicks has suffered at least two relapses since coming to the school.

&8220;He still has a big battle ahead,&8221; North said.

Brad Hayn, who is co-sponsoring this year&8217;s event, noted the importance of keeping cancer in the spotlight.

&8220;This partnership gives the students, faculty and the community a chance to give back to such an important cause by raising money for the fight against cancer,&8221; Hayn said.

&8220;We hope to raise awareness, and in turn, reduce cancer risk through education programs while raising funds for the American Cancer Society research, advocacy and patient service programs.&8221;

American Cancer Society spokesperson Julie Bradley said the money from the fund-raiser will help the organization provide wigs for chemotherapy patients and educate youth on the dangers of using tobacco which often leads to cancer.

&8220;Sometime in all of our lives, this disease will touch us all,&8221; Bradley said.

The amount raised at this year&8217;s &8220;Hoops for Hope&8221; was unavailable at presstime, but organizers expected that funds raised this year would easily top last season&8217;s mark