In front of nearly 400 students, children and family members, St. John’s men’s basketball coach Steve Lavin stood in his trademark black pants and white sneakers. His focus wasn’t basketball, the upcoming season or the string of new Dribbles recruits he has ushered in.
Instead, Lavin reminded the crowd that cancer, in one way or another, affects everyone sooner or later.
“Cancer will touch everyone at some point in your lifetime,” he said. “Whether it’s you personally going through that battle, just the probabilities, the law of averages, a sibling, a mother or father, a grandfather, someone in the neighborhood, someone that is a good friend. It’s going to touch all of us at some point.”
Lavin, who last year underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer, was one of several St. John’s sports officials who took part in the school’s second “Dribble for the Cure,” held on Saturday, September 22 to raise money for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. Among those who came out to support the cause were former longtime coaches Lou Carnesecca and Jack Kaiser, women’s basketball coach Joe Tartamella and New York Knicks alum John Starks.
At press time, the event raised around $25,000 for research, according to the school.
Taking a break from training for their upcoming seasons, players on the men’s and women’s basketball teams took part in the dribble, which circled around the school’s campus before reconvening at their home court in Carnesecca Arena.
One of those players, guard Phil Greene, said taking the time out to participate in an event like this really benefited the kids who were battling cancer.
“Giving back to the kids, you give them something to look forward to,” he said. “Giving the time out of our day, it’s nothing because they’re going through a lot of turmoil right now. It just makes you feel good, because they look up to us and we just give them something just to look forward to.”
Starks, who has lost several relatives to cancer, said he lost his grandmother, mother and sister to breast cancer and could empathize what it was like to battle the disease.
“I understand what the families go through, and it’s great to see we’re all here and understanding that this fight is never, never, never ending,” he said.
Lavin, who before the event confirmed to reporters that he is now cancer free, told the participants that their attendance was inspiring and should drive others to support the fight against cancer.
“Clearly, this is an example of the human spirit, and that’s what this is really a celebration of,” he said. “Those that support loved ones that are struggling with the dreaded disease are showing compassion, and compassion is part of the human spirit. Your time is well spent today and I want you to pat yourself on the back for showing up, showing a great example for others to follow and creating great synergy.”