COLORADO SPRINGS — A cancer diagnosis is devastating enough, but many patients face even more obstacles when it comes to getting treatment. That's why Coach Dave Pilipovich and his Air Force Academy men's basketball team raise money for the American Cancer Society's program called the Road to Recovery through an annual game.
Money raised was all based on how many people attended the Suits and Sneakers game, which was played against Colorado State University. Those with Air Force Athletics said 2,475 people went to the game, and Coach Pilipovich and his wife will donate one dollar to the Road to Recovery for each person. "We want it to be packed so we can donate more money. The money's going to stay locally, in the Road to Recovery program which is a program that allows patients to get to their treatments. If there aren't volunteers available, which my wife is one volunteer, the money's used with taxi or Uber to provide those services for them," said Coach Pilipovich, who sported bright pink sneakers with his suit.
One volunteer for the American Cancer Society, Danny Litwhiler, said he was lucky to find his prostate cancer early, but his journey with the disease did not stop there. "Eleven years ago I was diagnosed with melanoma, found it early, saved my life. Then two years ago, melanoma again. They say three strikes you're out, well I'm a baseball player in the past and I do foul tips from now on, that's my plan," said Litwhiler.
The Community Development Manager for the American Cancer Society in Colorado Springs, Chelbye McIntyre, said the Road to Recovery provided rides for 6,500 patients across the state and 580 in El Paso County in 2018. McIntyre said she started her work with the American Cancer Society after losing her step-mother to lung cancer. "She was there from the age of 13 on, so she was my mother figure, and that was hard to lose," said McIntyre.
Support was shown for those who are battling cancer or who lost their lives to the disease through signs where their names could be written by fans at the game. At halftime, fans had the chance to hold up those names, to show them they are not alone. "We cannot do enough to try and stop this disease, and eventually one day we will," said Coach Pilipovich.
Those with the American Cancer Society said there are only around 15 volunteer drivers locally, and they are always in need of more volunteers. Also, you can call 1-800-227-2345 at any time with questions, or if you need a friendly ear to listen.