LOUISVILLE, Ky. — NFCA members have once again stepped up to the plate and delivered in the fight against cancer, raising $352,523.14 in support of the Association and its StrikeOut Cancer initiative in 2022-23.
The University of Notre Dame was the top fundraiser overall, collecting $70,000. The Fighting Irish’s efforts coincided with their 12th annual Strikeout Cancer weekend. They hosted a pair of fundraising events with a trivia night at the South Bend Cubs Training Center, and a home run derby ($10 for 10 swings) following Notre Dame’s ACC series finale against Pitt.
Glory Fastpitch founder and president Suzy Willemssen hosted the annual Glory StrikeOut Cancer Invitational, which topped all travel ball and youth fundraisers for the fifth consecutive year with $50,000. All net proceeds from the event go to Children’s National Hospital and will directly help children in their fight to survive cancer.
Virginia Wesleyan’s 13th annual StrikeOut Cancer fundraiser, spearheaded by head coach Brandon Elliott, was held in conjunction with its contest against Roanoke College. It raised a record $42,067 in memory of Elliott’s mother Elaine Sears. Since 2009, VWU has raised over $220,000 for the American Cancer Society.
Division II’s University of Bridgeport’s campaign and StrikeOut Cancer game was close to home as it raised $36,673 in honor of Purple Knight hurler Kaite Burawski, who was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer prior to the 2023 season (November 2022). She was declared cancer free in April.
Saint Thomas Aquinas High School (Overland Park, Kan.) also hit the five-figure donation mark with $24,500 raised at its annual cancer fundraiser that was in support of an infant cancer patient from the community.
Howard Community College ($4,850 / Junior College) hosted a StrikeOut Cancer contest which featured cancer survivors from each side throwing out first pitches. York University (NAIA) raised $4,450 in support of head coach Roni Miller’s nephew Isaac Arellano through multiple communities purchasing shirts, selling baked goods and sending donations.
Numerous other schools either raised money or awareness by hosting a single event or by coordinating a season-long campaign to battle cancer. The schools that registered with the NFCA were entitled to a special package of StrikeOut Cancer items, which included NFCA StrikeOut Cancer eye black, tattoos, wristbands and more.
The winners receive Louisville Slugger bats with the color tailored to their specific cancer fundraiser. The bats were generously donated by Slugger’s parent company, Wilson Sporting Goods, Inc.
NCAA Division I - University of Notre Dame - $70,000 (Deanna Gumpf)
NCAA Division II - University of Bridgeport - $36,673 (Dawn Stearns)
NCAA Division III - Virginia Wesleyan University - $42,067 (Brandon Elliott)
NAIA - York University - $4,450 (Roni Miller)
Junior College - Howard Community College - $4,800 (Shannon Riley)
High School - Saint Thomas Aquinas - $24,500 (Keith Hughes)
Travel Ball/Youth - VA Glory - $50,000 (Suzy Willemssen)
Celebrating 40 years in 2023, the NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) is the professional organization for fastpitch softball coaches. Known for its extensive awards and scholarships program, the NFCA also educates and supports softball coaches on a variety of different levels: from NFCA podcasts to a comprehensive drills database, to in-person events and a National Convention.