The Illinois State women’s basketball team has been named a Play4Kay divisional winner for the fifth year in a row, as the Redbirds raised more money than any other non-BCS Division I school, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund announced Friday.

Illinois State set a new Play4Kay fundraising record in 2020, raising over $27,000 for the cause at the February 16 game versus Valparaiso.

“We are so appreciative and grateful for our fans and gameday participants, as well as those who financially supported their participation in our activities,” Illinois State Deputy Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator Leanna Bordner said. “Coach Yow was, and remains, an inspirational leader who motivates all of us to do more to assist in supporting research for a horrific disease. Her vision is our vision and we thank all those who played a part in this years’ event and success. A special thanks to our Redbird marketing team for their coordination of our Play4Kay event.”

Funds were raised via an in-game raffle, a silent auction, as well as through donations made in support of participants walking, biking, and competing in triathlon events courtside during the 10th annual Play4Kay game in February. The Community Cancer Center, Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, the Mennonite College of Nursing, the Student Nursing Association, and Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority, partnered with ISU Athletics to make the event possible.

Cancer survivors and those currently battling cancer were invited to a pregame social in the Legends Room at Redbird Arena, and to participate in an on-court recognition ceremony at halftime.

“The Play4Kay game always holds a special place in my heart,” said head coach Kristen Gillespie. “To see her legacy live on and to have the outpouring of support from our community is tremendous. Coach Yow was one of my biggest role models and I could not be prouder of the Redbird family for all of their efforts in making this event a continued success.”

Illinois State Athletics and the Community Cancer Center announced earlier this year the launch of a fundraising campaign benefiting the Kay Yow Cancer Fund that will result in a $150,000 grant in support of a program that will serve the underserved in the Bloomington-Normal community.

The vision of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund is to be the premier non-profit organization dedicated to supporting innovative ways of fighting all cancers affecting women and providing support through giving strength, courage, and hope. Since the Fund’s inception, $7.78 million has been awarded to scientific research grants and programs that serve their causes.

The Kay Yow Cancer Fund was officially founded on December 3, 2007, from the vision of the organization’s namesake, Kay Yow, former North Carolina State head women’s basketball coach. Coach Yow was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 before succumbing to the disease on January 24, 2009. The Kay Yow Cancer Fund is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization committed to being a part of finding an answer in the fight against all women’s cancers through raising funds for scientific research, assisting the underserved, and unifying people for a common cause.

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