This year’s Play4Kay women’s basketball event will be held on Feb. 11 at 4 p.m. in the March F. Riddle Center on the campus of Methodist University. The event will feature a silent auction and special recognition for cancer patients and survivors during halftime. Merchandise is currently on sale in the Methodist University bookstore or by pre-order through Women’s Basketball Coach DeeDee Jarman’s office.
There will also be a 5K walk/run the morning of the game. The $25 entrance fee will benefit Play4Kay fundraising at Methodist University. For information on the 5K, call 910.630.7615. During the week leading up to the game, TLC Auto Wash on Ramsey Street will donate $1 from every car wash between Feb. 4 and 11 to Play4Kay at MU. ScrubOaks restaurant on Ramsey Street will also be hosting a spirit day on Feb. 10, when the restaurant will donate a percentage of all their sales between noon and midnight to the Play4Kay fundraiser.
Traditionally, the women’s basketball Play4Kay game is the culmination of the year’s fundraising efforts for Play4Kay at MU, with fundraising opportunities throughout the year at other activities and athletic events.
According to Jarman, Play4Kay at Methodist University has raised more than $100,000 since it began. The proceeds have been divided between the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, where the funds are used to research all women’s cancers, and the Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation’s Friends of the Cancer Center, where the money is used to pay for mammograms for underprivileged women in the Fayetteville Community.
Coach Jarman was still dribbling basketballs on her high school court when she met Sandra Kay Yow, the late N.C. State coach. Yow would become an inspiration to Jarman and other aspiring coaches and players, not only for how she battled on the court, but how she battled cancer. MU’s annual Play4Kay games are part of Yow’s legacy.
Yow served as a collegiate basketball coach for 38 years, with her longest stint at North Carolina State University. She had 700 career victories and was chosen as an Olympic coach among an elite group on nine picked to coach the U.S. Basketball Team during the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
Yow first heard the words no woman wants to hear from her doctor in 1987: “You have breast cancer.”
The coach fought the disease three times.
“She was fighting a fight for everybody; it wasn’t just her fight,” Jarman said. “She was fighting for every woman who has battled cancer.”
Watching Yow support her team and players across the street humbled Jarman as their relationship progressed from mentorship to friendship. Jarman said Yow’s unwavering faith in God kept her vigilant and kind as she faced the fight of her life.
“Other people came before herself, even when she was battling cancer,” Jarman remembered. “Other people wanted to put her in the spotlight, but she didn’t want that.”
The Kay Yow Cancer Fund, and its fundraising initiative Play4Kay, began in December 2007 with the goal of raising funds for scientific research, assisting the underserved, and unifying people for a common cause.
Two years later, on Jan. 24, 2009, Yow succumbed to the disease. That day is one that Jarman will never forget.
“It was a Saturday, so we had a game,” Jarman remembered. “It was and still is an emotional day because she meant so much to women’s basketball. It is hard to understand why things like that happen to great people. She was an amazing, caring, genuine woman. She was an all-around amazing person.”
Jarman and her team had a moment of silence, during which she remembered the moment her daughter sat in the lap of the legend who she called a friend.
Although Jarman admits every Play4Kay event brings with it a roller coaster of emotions, she knows her basketball team and the several groups on Methodist University’s campus that raise money for the cause are doing what Yow would do.
“She would be helping others. The money we raise here goes toward research we hope can cure all women’s cancers,” Jarman said. “I believe Play4Kay has become one of the biggest events on campus. Everybody wants to get involved because they feel the passion and they want to help raise funds.”
For more information on Play4Kay at Methodist University, contact Jarman at 910.630.7283.