Last year, 36 University of Wisconsin students made half court shots at the “Shooting Down Cancer” event. Now in its second year, UW men’s basketball head coach Bo Ryan challenges students to do it again.
The second annual Shooting Down Cancer event will take place at the Kohl Center today from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Ryan said he will donate $1 for every student that participates in the event, $10 for every free throw and $1,000 for every half court shot to the American Cancer Society.
According to UW Athletic Department spokesperson Patrick Herb, the idea for Shooting against Cancer first developed when Ryan and his wife, Kelly Ryan, were looking for a way to engage the student body with the basketball team. Ryan and the basketball team came up with the event to reach out to UW students in a positive way and raise money for charity, he said.
Coaches vs. Cancer is a charity that is close to Ryan’s heart and one that he has been involved with for many years, Herb said.
“Ryan and his wife Kelly strongly feel that a cure will be found and there is a decent chance that it might be found right here on campus with all the work going on at UW hospital,” Herb said.
At the first event last year, no one knew what to expect, Herb said. It was a rainy day and put together on short notice, but was a still great success, with around 1,500 people participating, he said.
According to Herb, the students raised more than $41,000, which Ryan did not expect, Herb said, adding that Ryan hopes this will become an annual event.
Luke Wainwright, director of basketball operations said the turnout last year surprised event coordinators, but this year coordinators will be prepared for heavy crowds. He said they want to ensure they are able to have everybody participate in the event without having them wait in line for too long.
Wainwright also said event coordinators tried to improve communication with groups on campus and sponsors this year.
“The number one thing from my perspective is to manage the amount of people that will be coming into the Kohl Center, making sure the flow of traffic is organized and under control so everyone understands what to do,” Wainwright said.
Herb said he hopes the exposure from last year’s event and the exposure Ryan and the basketball team received while “Jumping Around” at the football game last Saturday energizes the student body to come out and participate.
The goal this year is to beat last year’s turnout and raise more money, Herb said.
“I’d be shocked if we don’t break that. Anything we raise is a positive, but we’re really hoping to smash last years amount,” Herb said.
He remarked that “Shooting Down Cancer” is an “awesome” way for students to interact with Ryan and the basketball team.
“It’s one thing to sit in the stands and cheer on the teams and be passionate about the teams from an outsider vantage point, but it’s another thing to be on the basketball court mixing and mingling with players,” Herb said. “It’s a great way to bring people together and get some excitement going for the basketball season.”
Wainwright said he thinks it is great that ‘Shooting Down Cancer’ and UW can combine a sense of charity along with camaraderie between students and student-athletes.