When Steve Lavin told the participants in the Dribble for the Cure that they were “soldiers in a fight against cancer,” they listened.
The head coach of St. John’s men’s basketball team has been cancer-free for about 20 months and addressed a crowd at Carnesecca Arena last Saturday. Lavin, who was diagnosed in 2011 with prostate cancer, expressed that “the most powerful form of leadership are your actions.”
Members of the team expressed how they were affected by the diagnosis and what the Dribble for the Cure event means to the man who recruited them to St. John’s.
“Our coach survived cancer, it’s like seeing our father survive cancer,” said Red Storm center Chris Obekpa. “I can’t wait to lead the kids in here and see the smiles on their faces.”
“This is my favorite time of year,” said St. John’s point guard Phil Greene IV. “This is about giving back to kids who have cancer. For a day, they can take their minds off their troubles and take them away.”
Junior guard D’Angelo Harrison commented that it was a good opportunity for the team to “count our blessings and put smiles on their faces.”
Jakarr Sampson said he was pleased to be a part of it. “It means a lot to us and St. John’s,” said last season’s Big East Rookie of the Year.
“It’s about giving back to the community and serving. Lavin always talks about the struggle and these kids are going through it, so you can just imagine what they’re going through.”
Also appearing at the event was legendary St. John’s basketball coach Lou Carnesecca.
“The cause is wonderful. People give themselves up. The big thing about this is you help people,” he said. “It’s good for the young people to see that there are other people in this world. It’s wonderful really. St. John’s has always done that.”
The event raised more than $55,000 this year, the most in the three years the event has been held at St. John’s. More than 500 people came out to help the cause. The Pediatric Cancer Research has raised more than $30 million since being established in 1982.
Red Storm sharpshooter Max Hooper said the event gave “perspective to see what kind of impact we have on the community as St. John’s student-athletes.”
“It’s pretty special if we can raise money for people who have experienced cancer,” remarked Mel Davis, who played for St. John’s from 1970 to 1972. “We’re on board to help as many people as we can.”