High schools go to court to fight cancer

clambert@thetribunenews.comNovember 23, 2010 

Numerous people at Arroyo Grande and Nipomo high schools have been touched in some way by cancer: A parent is battling it. A coach survived it.

To raise awareness about the disease and its effect on so many lives, the two schools’ boys and girls basketball teams will face off Tuesday to raise money for a cause.

The idea began to form soon after Nipomo High School Athletic Director Laurie Decker hired new boys basketball coach Greg Cebulla, who was diagnosed last summer with lymphoma.

Cebulla said he received a clean bill of health about a month before he was hired as head basketball coach.

“We looked at each other when we first met and thought it would be neat to do something that would raise awareness, collaborate with both schools and raise money for a charity,” Decker said.

In the inaugural “Hoops for Hope” event — which organizers hope to hold annually — the boys and girls basketball teams from the two high schools will face off at Nipomo High School.

They’ll raise money for the Hearst Cancer Resource Center at San Luis Obispo’s French Hospital Medical Center, which offers support and resources free of charge to cancer survivors and their families, and is supported by community donations.

The four teams also each picked a family that has been touched by cancer as a team representative.

Nipomo High’s boys team, for example, selected Patsy Mitchell, who in February was diagnosed with lymphoma at 51 years of age.

Mitchell, whose son, Wyatt, is a member of the basketball team, is undergoing tests to determine whether she is cancer-free.

“The boys are so excited to do something for someone else while getting to do their favorite thing — play basketball,” she said.

Donations can be made to either high school’s activities office throughout November, or at the game. A group page on Facebook for Hoops for Hope has also been created. For more information, visit Arroyo Grande High’s website at www.lmusd.org/education/school/school.php?sectionid=6.

The varsity girls game begins at 5:15 p.m.; followed by the varsity boys at 7 p.m. The cost to attend is a $5 donation.

Cebulla hopes the fundraiser nets $5,000 to $10,000, and organizers are still looking for major donors to help offset some of the costs.

“I’m looking forward to it, but I also want to put on a good show,” he said of his team. “So we’re working hard.”

• • •

The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County is offering a chance to build up an appetite for Thanksgiving dinner by participating in a hike Thursday in rural Arroyo Grande.

Restoration ecologist and hiking guide Mark Skinner will lead a behind-the-scenes tour of an active restoration area for dune scrub habitat of the Land Conservancy’s private Black Lake Ecological Area, located off Highway 1.

The hike starts at 9 a.m.; a $5 donation per person or $10 per family is suggested.

Advance sign-up is required. RSVP to TeresaT@LCSLO.org or 544-9096 ext. 18; at which time directions will be provided.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.

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