BYU players and coaches spend personal time with children at the annual Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation party. Last year Travis Hansen, now with the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, was among the Cougar players taking part in the uplifting evening.
PROVO, UTAH -- BYU coach Steve Cleveland and the men's and women's basketball teams hope to bring a little Christmas cheer this year to some 80 families who have children with cancer.
The basketball teams are working with the Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation to host its annual Christmas Party for local families who have children with cancer. Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to providing assistance for children with cancer and their families,
The Foundation is still seeking donations of gifts and money to help its cause. Individuals wishing to participate with the Foundation by volunteering; or by making a donation of a new, unwrapped toy; or by contributing money toward the purchase of gifts are encouraged to do so at the Provo Harmon's Downtown Auto Center, at any Far West Bank location, or by contacting Foundation founder and chairman Mac Boyter at 801-373-3031 or the BYU basketball office at 801-378-3612. The gifts will be distributed to the children with cancer and to their families at the Christmas party on Dec. 16.
"Last year's party was the biggest ever and this year's party will be even bigger," Cleveland said. "Last year we more than doubled the number of families involved and we have even more this year. We all genuinely love being involved and trying to bring some more Christmas cheer to these courageous young children and their families. They are a real inspiration."
At the party, the children with cancer and their siblings are able to play games, have posters autographed by the men's and women's players, enjoy good food, and visit with Cosmo -- BYU's mascot -- and, of course, with Santa Claus. The children all receive several gifts and the Pizza Factory provides food for all in attendance. Including volunteers and organizers, more than 500 people are expected to participate in this year's party.
Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation provides assistance in a number of ways, but primarily through the collection and distribution of gifts to children with cancer and their families during the Christmas holiday season. For the past six years, the Foundation has collected toys and then distributed them to these special children and to their families at a Christmas party.
"This has been a very rewarding experience for me and for the young men on the team," said Cleveland, who has been involved, along with the basketball team, the past six years. "This helps give our players some perspective, to see that there is much more than basketball. It is a good opportunity to serve others. The Foundation is working hard to help all the families it can. Seeing these kids smile and enjoy themselves at the party is a nice feeling for everyone involved, especially considering all these families go through on a daily basis."
In addition to Cleveland serving as the Foundation's honorary chairman, his wife Kip has been actively involved as a committee member, and Cheryl Rose, wife of BYU Associate Head Coach Dave Rose, is the Foundation's vice chairman. Many others volunteer their time and assistance. The Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation was founded by Mac Boyter, an adult cancer survivor, whose heart was touched by the suffering and plight of children undergoing treatment for cancer.
"We hope this event provides the families with the opportunity to forget about their troubles for an evening," Cheryl Rose said. "It's also nice for these families to come together and get to know others who are going through similar experiences. We appreciate the support from the community, people donating gifts and money, businesses donating food and other items. It takes a lot of people working hard to make this a first-class evening for these families."
Coaches vs. Cancer Rex E. Lee Memorial Golf Tournament
Coach Cleveland and his staff are among the more than 500 coaches around the country that are teaming up to fight cancer through their involvement in the Coaches vs. Cancer program, which was formed in 1993.
As part of the their efforts, the fourth annual Rex E. Lee Memorial Golf Tournament will be conducted in Spring 2004 at Riverside Country Club. If you would like to participate in the event or get more information, please contact the men's basketball office at 801-378-3612.