Supposedly, the Mystics will have “news” soon … and while we wait for that, let’s look ahead to few weeks from now, when at the end of October I head out to Western Kansas and run into Sheryl Swoopes and Jackie Stiles.
Well, among others, including the Atlanta Dream’s Shalee Lehning, the New York Liberty’s Sidney Spencer, the San Antonio Silver Stars’ Helen Darling, and former WNBA player Edna Campbell, a cancer survivor. They are all scheduled to take part in the WEPAC “Hoops for Hope” exhibition basketball game, an event that began last year.
WEPAC is an acronym for the small Kansas communities of Wilmore, Englewood, Protection, Ashland and Coldwater. A very ambitious fellow named Benjamin Anderson, CEO of the Ashland Health Center, got the idea that as much as Kansans love their basketball, a charity game would be a great way to raise funds for better cancer-screening equipment and to help the women of this very rural area get improved preventative care.
Benjamin sends out regular updates about how the funds raised from last year’s game have aided the communities: the money has paid for almost 100 mammograms, over 50 pap smears, and 25 colonoscopies. The plain fact is that this game already has saved lives, and will continue to do so.
This year, the game is Friday, Oct. 29 and is scheduled to be broadcast on Fox Sports Midwest. Brenda Van Lengen and I will be there, as will former Missouri coach Cindy Stein. Brenda and Cindy will do the television broadcast, which will be from 7-9 p.m. Central time.
And today on “She’s Got Game,” the twice-weekly radio show that Brenda and I do, we’ll be talking to former Kansas player Ivana Catic. She’s a graduate assistant at KU now, and took part in the game last year as well.
I know a lot of folks have been wondering about Swoopes and how she’s doing, so we’ll give a full report from the game on her and others who are participating. Among the players will be alums from universities mainly in the Midwest. You can check out the WEPAC Alliance page on Facebook.
To get an idea how important it is to raise funds in these communities for cancer screening, consider this story that Benjamin relayed at the start of October:
“A 30-year veteran cook in our hospital kitchen went in for her first-ever colonoscopy. She came back with colon cancer and today, she started chemo and radiation as the doctors work to save her life. She had cancer growing in her body at the game last year and just didn’t know it. She used a WEPAC voucher to pay for that colonoscopy, and would never have gotten one without it. She also hasn’t had a pap smear since her last child was born 35 years ago. These are the women we’re reaching.”