By Laura Amato
For the sixth straight year, the St. John’s men’s and women’s basketball teams combined practicing the fundamentals of the game with raising money for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation as they quite literally dribbled around campus in the Dribble for the Cure.
But while the Red Storm coaches were certainly happy to see their players with a ball in their hands—just a few days removed from the start of the season—the money raised for the cause was the main focus of Saturday’s event.
This year’s event raised over $105,000 for the Foundation and the event has now raised more than $500,000 at St. John’s since it started in Queens in 2011.
“It means a lot to be here, to be here for the kids and all of the families going through things,” said sophomore guard Malik Ellison. “It’s great to be here with my teammates and for us to bond. The little kids get excited and that’s the best part.”
Dribble for the Cure first started at St. John’s as a carry-over from former coach Steve Lavin’s time at UCLA. In fact, the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation is based out of California.
But, even after Lavin left the Red Storm, the teams maintained their relationship with the organization and the event has only gotten bigger over the last few years.
“I’ve watched this event grow so it’s really cool to watch an event from California come out here to New York and be able to pass on the love and generosity that you guys have for the research we’ve supported for over 35 years,” said Jeri Wilson, the executive director of the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund.
The money raised over the last six years has already been put into action and, after a few hours of dribbling around campus, the Red Storm basketball teams have helped ensure the future of many children across the country.
Dribble for the Cure funds the research of Dr. Mitchell Cairo whose work over the last few years has raised survival rates in certain types of childhood cancers from 20 percent to more than 60 percent.
It’s an astounding number and one the Red Storm athletic community can’t help but take a bit of pride in.
“Off the court, that’s what St. John’s is all about: taking care of your brother,” said men’s basketball coach Chris Mullin. “On the court, I tell my guys that and I was taught by Coach Carnesecca that a good player can do for himself but a great player does for other people. And that’s what we’re all here to do today.”
Both of the Red Storm basketball squads kick off their schedules in November, and while they will certainly be doing plenty of dribbling once the season starts, this one day of fundamentals might have been the most important of all.
“The people involved can see how special this St. John’s family is and how much everyone wants to support them,” said junior guard Aaliyah Lewis. “Everyone is happy to be a part of this cause.”