In conjunction with Carilion Children’s to fight pediatric cancer, Virginia Tech basketball held the second annual Shoes 4 Hope event on Wednesday morning inside the Hahn Hurst Basketball Practice Center.
The event included players and coaches from both the men’s and women’s programs partnering with Carilion Pediatric Hematology-Oncology patients, with the effort centered around raising awareness for pediatric cancer.
“Anytime you get to see kids engaged in things that just bring smiles to their face, it’s an incredible opportunity,” Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Carilion Clinic Don Halliwill said. “Then when you get to see their parents sitting beside them watching them, especially given what some of those children have been through and are still going through with their parents alongside them, it really brings home the reason that Carilion Clinic exists and the benefit that a partnership between Carilion Clinic and Virginia Tech and Learfield can bring to our communities.”
More than 25 participating children and teens were able to paint custom shoes for the coaches and basketball staff to wear later this season, with the women set to do so on Jan. 7 against NC State and the men slated to lace them up on Jan. 13 against Miami.
“This is what it’s all about,” Tech women’s basketball head coach Kenny Brooks said. “I know we’re here to win basketball games, but you’re also here to help build character. Anytime [our young ladies] can go and spread joy and cheer through their celebrity, they feel like it’s a privilege.
“For them, it’s not a burden, they come out here with big smiles on their faces, and we’re able to give back to the community. It makes me feel good as a coach because you know you’re doing things the right way. You’re teaching young people how to go out and make a difference in the world.”
Though the event certainly is aimed at making a difference in each patients’ lives, it’s designed to resonate with the Tech student-athletes that participated, too, something that resonated with men’s basketball standout guard Hunter Cattoor.
“It’s awesome to take the time away from basketball and enjoy time with [these kids],” Cattoor said. “It means a lot to them, but I think it means more to us. Just to kind of sit down with them, have a laugh, joke around and paint some shoes. I was joking around, I can’t remember the last time I colored something or painted something, probably since last year when I did this.
“So, it’s a super cool experience to kind of put me back as being a kid and kind of just experience this with them. … You make a friend every single time.”
The event also is part of the NCAA’s ongoing “Coaches vs. Cancer” initiative, where collegiate basketball coaches and staff nationwide wear sneakers at designated games to raise awareness for the cause.
Each pair of shoes will be up for auction following the conclusion of both contests. To help support the cause, you may donate today. An auction link to bid on the specially designed shoes will be available as we get closer to the designated basketball games.
“[This] is why our 14,000 employees do what they do every day,” Halliwill said. “[We’re] trying to bring smiles or return smiles to people’s faces. There are a lot of times that there are also tears and we’re there for that, too, but when you can do things that are contributing to the smiles, that makes it all worth it.”
Virginia Tech Athletics