Dec. 6, 2012
NEW YORK – The student managers and student athletic trainer for The University of Texas Men's Basketball program usually can be found on game nights handling their responsibilities around or behind the team bench while dressed in Texas polo shirts and slacks.
On Tuesday night during UT's game against Georgetown at historic Madison Square Garden, the three student managers who made the trip – Clay Mello, Jordan Strickler and Vincent Hu – and student athletic trainer Motoki Fuji each dressed in a dress white shirt with a tie and slacks. Why the change in attire?
Tuesday's game was part of the prestigious Jimmy V Classic, an annual event that showcases four of the nation's elite programs in a fundraising event for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. This marked UT's third appearance at the Jimmy V Classic and the 18th year of the college basketball doubleheader. The V Foundation has raised more than $120 million and awarded cancer research grants to fund more than 100 cancer centers nationwide.
For Mello, Strickler, Hu and Fuji, it represented a chance to do two things. First, each had a personal story of someone close to them who had passed due to cancer. And second, it offered a chance on national television to raise awareness to the fight against the particular type of cancer that each had been affected by.
Monika Mello, the mother of senior student manager Clay Mello, defeated breast cancer on two separate occasions. She was then diagnosed with ovarian cancer and lost her fight after a three-year battle in the summer of 2008. Clay, who was later diagnosed with testicular cancer but has since won that battle, honored his mom by wearing a teal-colored tie for ovarian cancer awareness.
Junior student manager Jordan Strickler, lost two of his grandparents to cancer recently. His grandmother, Eileen Files, was diagnosed with leukemia in August 2011 and fought it before passing in November 2011. His grandfather and Eileen's husband, Patrick Files, passed away after fighting kidney cancer. Jordan honored his grandparents by wearing an orange tie for leukemia awareness and Kelly Green socks for kidney cancer awareness.
Senior student manager Vincent Hu, also lost a pair of grandparents to battles with cancer. His grandmother, Mary, passed away after fighting lung cancer. His grandfather, George, passed away two years ago from heart and lung failure after overcoming his own fight with gastric cancer. Vincent wore white and periwinkle socks to draw awareness for lung (white) and gastric (periwinkle) cancer. He also wore a pink and orchid-colored tie in tribute to Clay Mello, Monika Mello and Eileen Files.
Senior student athletic trainer Motoki Fuji lost his grandfather to colon cancer two years ago. Motoki will wear a dark blue tie to honor his grandfather and raise awareness for colon cancer.