UNCA baseball team shaves heads to support Vs. Cancer Foundation
WLOS - The score books will say UNC Asheville played Western Carolina Wednesday night in a mid-season out-of-conference rivalry showdown. The true opponent in the game, however, has no face and can't be defeated over nine innings. The 6th UNCA "Vs. Cancer" game is a stand in support for the Bulldogs program against a vicious disease.
The Vs. Cancer Foundation was started by Chase Jones, who was an 18-year old member of the North Carolina Tar Heels baseball team when he was diagnosed with a Stage IV brain tumor. The organization uses a "half and half model" according to its website, which means half of the donations go to local efforts to assist children with cancer, while the other half will go towards research for a cure. "There's a whole big world out there and sometimes there's people that have hardships and trials and tribulations," said UNCA Athletic Director Janet Cone. "What can we do to help? This happens to be a cause, cancer, [the baseball players] really identify with and they said we're really going to try and help them do something."
Sophomore Chris Troost has a 16-year old cousin named Ryan who was diagnosed with liver cancer when he was eighteen months old. "He battled it for awhile, but he overcame it and he's the greatest kid in the world now," smiled Troost. His cousin got to the ballpark right after the Bulldogs wrapped up their fifth straight win over WCU, 8-4. He didn't miss the real show, however. After the game members of the UNCA team shaved their heads to show support for kids battling cancer. "It's bigger than the game. It's more important than what we're doing out here," said Troost nodding towards the field.
Every player sat under the razor, but not without some joking around. "I'd rather go a little bit longer. I'm kind of balding," grimaced sophomore infielder Tyler Serricchio. Pitcher Greg Gasparro gave his new look a less-than-stellar review. "I'm going to be honest, not good," he laughed when asked how he looks bald. "But it's for the kids, so it's for a good cause."
Shaving heads may not seem like a giant gift to the fight against cancer, but it actually carries more weight than you can imagine. "As kids are battling this terrible disease not only are we funding groundbreaking research to help them, we also have role models out here that are standing next to them," explained Rachel Mark, associate campaign director for Vs. Cancer. "Even if they're not physically doing so they're shaving their heads in support, which means a lot."
Before the game the foundation was presented a check from UNCA worth $12,300. That brings the Bulldogs total contribution to Vs. Cancer to more than $35,000. "That's part of our program," said assistant coach Jonathan Johnston as he watched his guys take a seat one-by-one to don the chrome dome. "Our motto is, 'Team, Teammate, Self' and this is just a demonstration of that."
If you would like to join UNC Asheville's support of Vs. Cancer, you can make a donation by visiting this link .