More than 1,600 students came together on the Kohl Center court to participate in an event supported by University of Wisconsin men’s basketball head coach Bo Ryan and his wife that ultimately raised $41,279 for cancer research.
Ryan and his wife put on the Charity Stripe Challenge event by agreeing to donate money to the Coaches vs. Cancer organization and the American Cancer Society for every basketball shot made by a student who participated.
Every student who attended the event had the opportunity to shoot one free throw and one half-court shot. For every student who participated, Bo and his wife, Kelly Ryan, agreed to donate $1. For every made free throw they donated $10, and for every made half-court shot, they donated $1,000.
Michael Frisbie, a freshman at UW, was one of the few to make a half-court shot. He said it made him happy to know he had helped put so much money to a good cause.
“It was unreal; I didn’t think it was going in,” Frisbie said. “But it felt really good to be able to help out, especially since it is for such a good cause.”
According to a UW statement, 36 UW students made half-court shots, and “countless” others made free-throw shots.
Patrick Herb, a spokesperson for UW Athletics, said the coordinators of the event were originally unsure of how many students to expect but were excited and overwhelmed by how many students showed up to participate.
Herb added the event had no set monetary goal, but it was 75 percent directed at raising money for cancer research and 25 percent directed at getting students involved in a fun community-building event.
“Anytime you can bring this many students together for a common goal, it’s really fun to experience,” Herb said. “[The event] reflects positively on the school and the kinds of students here.”
Herb added he was excited to see groups of students bonding coming to the event together, such as fraternities, student organizations and other athletic teams.
The UW women’s varsity soccer team was one such group. Nicole La Petina, a UW junior on the team, said the participation of many different sports teams in charity events expresses the bonded community between athletes present at UW.
“Our support really shows how close of a community we are as athletes and how we want to help each other,” La Petina said. “We want to give any support we can to the basketball team and Coach Ryan and the cancer cause as a whole.”
Herb said Ryan is very passionate about supporting the cancer cause and was inspired to get involved with Coaches vs. Cancer by donations of others who have stepped up to help.
Kelly Ryan, Bo’s wife, said she and her husband got involved with Coaches vs. Cancer when the man who hired Bo as an assistant basketball coach at UW died from cancer. She added since then their participation in the cause has been growing, and involvement has been extended to the American Cancer Society as well.
She said events like the Charity Stripe Challenge are great ways to get involved with the cancer cause as well as create a positive connection between students and athletes on campus.
“We really just want to raise as much money as possible, and to let the students have fun,” Kelly said. “Bo wanted to get students involved with his players personally and create relationships while having it involve a good cause.”
UW sophomore Billy Maes, who also made his half-court shot, said the overall experience at the event was great because it brought many students together while supporting a good cause. He added it was great to meet Bo and the basketball athletes as well.
Bo Ryan, who according to the statement was “surprised and overwhelmed” by the student reception, said it was a pleasure to shake the hands of all the participants, adding one of the half court shots could be the difference in curing cancer.
“It was such a pleasure to shake the hands of about 1,500 hands and see the smiles on everyone’s faces,” he said in the statement. “My cheeks hurt a little from smiling and I’m sure I’ll have a little carpel tunnel in my hand, but it’s OK. It’s all worth it.”