Jay Wright, coaches tee-off against cancer



Stephen Vitabile

Philadelphia’s division I basketball coaches, along with over 180 other golfers, joined the fight against cancer in the 12th annual American Cancer Society Coaches vs. Cancer Jim Maloney Golf Classic at the Huntington Valley Country Club on Monday.

Those who participated – coaches Jay Wright (Villanova), Fran Dunphy (Temple), Phil Martelli (Saint Joe’s), James Flint (Drexel), John Giannini (La Salle), Glen Miller (UPenn) and others – hoped to raise more than $100,000 to help the American Cancer Society’s programs and services, which focus on research and advocacy for cancer survivors in the Philadelphia area.

“All of the Coaches vs. Cancer events are important,” Lisa Kaplan, income development manager for the American Cancer Society, wrote in an e-mail to The Villanovan. “This event is particularly important to the program because it is the first of the fiscal year. It’s our springboard to fundraising for the year and an opportunity to engage our constituents.”

At the start of the outing, the golfers gathered at the greens to have lunch.

After a shotgun start at noon, the participants hit the greens for a day of golf followed by a cocktail reception and dinner to end the event.

To add to the number of athletic celebrities, Comcast SportsNet’s anchors Neil Hartman and Dei Lynam emceed the night.

Another notable attendee was five-year-old Kyle Lograsso of Telford, Pa. Lograsso was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye, in both eyes at the age of two, causing him to lose an eye.

He has been free of cancer for over two years and has become somewhat of a golf prodigy.

Lograsso learned to play golf by watching the Golf Channel, and he hopes to one day defeat professional golfer Tiger Woods, his idol.

He has also attracted much media attention over the years and has been featured on “The Evening News with Katie Couric” and HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”

Wright, who has been involved with the event for over 10 years, said the Coaches vs. Cancer program serves to both the Philadelphia and Villanova communities.

“It’s part of our commitment as Philadelphia coaches to help raise money for the organization,” Wright said. “It’s important to support our fellow coaches, and it’s important for Villanova to help the community. It also builds nice community for the colleges in the Big Five.”

The event honors the memory of former Temple basketball coach Jim Maloney.

In his 14 years as coach, Maloney mentored many future NBA players, including his son Matt Manloney, Aaron McKie and Eddie Jones.

The Coaches vs. Cancer program has raised more than $3 million in the Philadelphia area since 1996, and this year it aims to raise over $1 million.

Other events coordinated by Coaches vs. Cancer of Philadelphia include the Tournament Tip-Off Breakfast at UPenn’s Palestra on March 17, the Monday after Selection Sunday, and the Basketball black-tie gala, a night of fundraising for the program on April 12.

The American Cancer Society is a volunteer health organization working in communities across the nation to raise money for cancer research programs

The society, founded in 1913 is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., and boasts over 3,400 offices in the United States.

Providing accurate, updated information to the public annually, the American Cancer Society sponsors many programs throughout the country on a yearly basis in order to support its cause.

Wright encourages University students , groups and faculty members to get involved with this particular cause as much as possible.

“We’re glad to work with student groups or organizations,” Wright said. “It’s a great way to be commmittted to a cause and to show we’re committed to Philadelphia teams.