10th annual Coaches vs. Cancer Basket Ball event takes place

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The 10th annual Coaches vs. Cancer Basket Ball took place on Wednesday.

When the college season tips off in just over a month, the University at Albany and Siena College will go back to being crosstown rivals. But for now, the two schools came together in the fight against cancer.

The event honored some people whose lives were forever altered by the disease.

Former Siena coach Fran McCaffery and his wife Margaret received the Fighting Spirit Award. The couple started the event 10 years ago alongside UAlbany head coach Will Brown and his wife Jamie.

While at Siena, McCaffery led the Saints to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2008 to 2010. Four years later his 13-year-old son Patrick was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

“It was always something very dear to me, but you never anticipate that your 13-year-old son is going to get cancer, so that changes it for everybody,” McCaffery said. “That changes it for us.”

Ever since, the McCafferys have been leaders in the fight to raise money and awareness for cancer research.

“To talk to him and what it’s been like these last 18 months is something Margaret and I are very proud of and excited about,” McCaffery said.

After multiple surgeries and treatments, the scans showed no signs of cancer in his thyroid.

“I think you might see him in a Hawkeye uniform one day,” McCaffery said.

Also being honored was UAlbany guard Peter Hooley. The senior’s story made national news when he became a March Madness star by sinking a shot to send the Great Danes to the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year.

“For that one particular moment, I think my life just felt complete,” he said.

At the time, Hooley credited his mother, Sue, with an assist from heaven as she had passed away from colon cancer less than two months before. Hooley missed eight games during the season to be by his mother’s side during her final days.

“I have random people who I’ve never met before come up to me and tell me that they’ve been inspired or they’re praying for me and my family,” Hooley said.

On Wednesday night, Hooley received the community-based Inspiration Award after inspiring thousands around the country to stay strong and keep living life to the fullest even in the wake of tragedy.

“Everything I’ve gone through and everything I’ve accomplished, I think this sits up there as one of the most amazing moments of my life because it’s not just me; it’s my family as well,” he said.

With his family and mother as his own inspiration, Hooley delivered a speech that brought the room to tears.

“So each day you wake up, make sure you tell those close to you just how much you care about them and love them,” he said. “Not because you might run out of time, but because they’re here now and it’s really worth saying something.”

All proceeds for the event will go toward the American Cancer Society.

Over the last nine years, the Coaches vs. Cancer Basket Ball has raised more than $1.2 million. After Wednesday night, Coach Brown said he expects that number to surpass $1.4 million.

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