Donate a ball, get autographs

Tennessee's Pat Summitt and Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer will be at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday to kick off the Hall of Fame's Basketball Collection event, "Get Kids in the Game," with a one-hour autograph session.

Anyone who donates a basketball to the "Get Kids in the Game" initiative will have the opportunity to get an autograph from the two Hall of Fame coaches from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The Basketball Collection Event, which is a team effort of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, World Vision, University of Tennessee Women's Athletics and WIVK, will run from 1 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 10, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11.

Individuals are invited to donate new or gently used basketballs for World Vision to distribute to children that do not have access to recreational equipment around the world.

Each person who donates a basketball will receive a special $4 admission rate to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Baden basketballs can be purchased on site at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame or a monetary donation can be made and basketballs will be purchased and donated in your name.

Coach Pat Summitt and Coach C. Vivian Stringer were inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 and 2001, respectively.

Their teams met in the 2007 National Championship game and will meet for a rematch in ESPN's "Big Monday" game at Thompson Boling Arena on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.

To cap off the Basketball collection, Baden Sports has agreed to donate one basketball for every point scored during the Tennessee/Rutgers game.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.

The "Get Kids in the Game" program, which is fashioned after the success of the World Vision's soccer ball donation program called "Get a Kick Out of Sharing, " is an effort to obtain donations of basketballs that will go to children in the United States and around the world.

Your donations will help get kids in the game so they can shoot for hope. World Vision has set a multiyear goal of collecting 250,000 basketballs. The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame has set a goal of 2,000 basketballs from the state of Tennessee to add to that cause.

"Knoxville is known as a hotbed of women's basketball with the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and the University of Tennessee," said Mike Lane, who manages World Vision's "Get Kids in the Game" effort. "We are delighted for the opportunity to partner with both organizations, as well as with WIVK, and the schools in the state of Tennessee to bring great joy to children by providing them with basketballs so they can share in the joy of basketball."

WIVK will be hosting live remotes Monday from the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, starting with Andy and Alison (WIVK, 107.7) from 6 to 10 a.m. and ending with Sports Animal (WNML, 99.3/99.1 FM, 990 AM) from 3 to 7 p.m.

Listen to WIVK and the Sports Animal or call (865) 633-9000 for more information.

THINK PINK: The Tennessee-Rutgers game is part of the "Think Pink" campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer.

The Tennessee fans have been asked to wear pink - and 10,000 T-shirts will be distributed at Monday's game - and Rutgers players will be in special pink uniforms and shoes made by Nike.

The Women's Basketball Coaches Association announced that more than 900 participants have committed to the 2008 "Think Pink" initiative, which officially began February 8.

The "Think Pink" initiative is a global, unified effort for the WBCA's nation of coaches to assist in raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond.

The week set aside for this year's initiative is February 8-17; however, many teams are participating outside of that window due to scheduling conflicts.

"The WBCA is very excited to promote an initiative that touches all levels of our membership and unifies them for such a great cause," said WBCA CEO Beth Bass. "It has been remarkable to watch the support of this initiative grow from 120 teams last year to over 900 teams from a variety for sports for 2008.

"With the help of each of our members, the women's basketball community and beyond can make a difference in the fight against breast cancer."

Schools have chosen to participate in a variety of different ways. Some ideas for involvement include ordering pink uniforms, inviting breast cancer survivors to the game, wearing pink shooting shirts, asking all fans to wear pink, and raffling off pink basketballs to raise money for a charity.

The extent of involvement is up to the individual institution; the importance comes in the awareness that the event creates.

The Association's original goal for this year's "Think Pink" was 750 participants, which was surpassed late January. The "Think Pink" initiative has also crossed over to other sports, including swimming and diving, gymnastics, tennis and men's basketball.

Thus far, several WBCA partners and sponsors have chosen to get involved in the WBCA's "Think Pink" initiative.

ESPN has joined the initiative by dedicating their annual "February Frenzy" and "Big Monday" women's college basketball games on ESPN2 and to promoting breast cancer awareness and supporting the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund in partnership with The V Foundation.

The NCAA has also joined the "Think Pink" initiative by implementing the "Calling for a Cure" campaign, where all NCAA women's basketball officials will be blowing a pink whistle February 8-17.

Additionally, officials are encouraged to make a donation to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund. WBCA sponsor Russell Athletic, among several others, have also jumped on board with the initiative, providing numerous schools with pink uniforms and apparel. They are donating a portion of any proceeds to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.

Many schools have partnered with local charities to make any donations raised through the "Think Pink" initiative at their individual school. Any school that has not already partnered with a charity has been encouraged to make donations to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.

Following the 2008 "Think Pink" week, the WBCA will collect photos, press releases, T-shirts, and radio/video footage, and will tally total number of fans reached and donations collected during the initiative.

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