Former University of Tennessee basketball star Kara Lawson has announced she will run in the 2nd annual NYRR Dash To The Finish Line 5K in order to raise money and awareness for the Pat Summit Foundation.
The race takes place November 3, the day before the ING New York City Marathon. Lawson's husband, Damien Barling, will run the ING New York City Marathon as part of the fundraising team. Lawson also participated in the 5k event last year, raising nearly $18,000.
Long time Lady Vols basketball coach, Pat Summit, was diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type, last year. She announced her diagnoses to the world on August 23rd of last year, and vowed to continue to coach as long as possible, knowing it would be a difficult task. She said in her announcement "I plan to continue to be your coach.". "Obviously, I realize I may have some limitations with this condition since there will be some good days and some bad days."
In true Pat Summit style, facing challenges head on and never being one to give up, she said "There's not going to be any pity party and I'’ll make sure of that." During her Arthur Ashe Courage Award acceptance speech she said"Tonight I am deeply touched as all of you heard my story. "I'm going to keep on keeping on. I promise you that."
Lawson's desire to raise fund for her former coach's foundation is an example of the impact Pat Summitt has had on the lives of the young women she comes in contact with, both on the basketball court and off. When interviewed, Sherry Bishop, a long time Knoxville native and Lady Vols basketball season ticket holder, reacted to the news of Lawson's announcement by saying "That is actually the best thing about Pat. She is not only an amazing coach, but she is an amazing mentor and friend. Players remember and respect great coaches, but great human beings, people that help you grow and mature into a great person, those are the people that you not only respect, you will move heaven and earth for. That is the type of person Pat Summit is." Adam Hammond, who is admittedly much more of a football fan than basketball fan, says "Everyone loves Pat. The fact that Kara is doing this to help Pat's foundation not only shows how much Kara respects and cares about Pat, but it shows that you could not find a better spokesperson for the disease then Pat Summitt."
This is not the only fundraising event Lawson has in mind this year. She is also donating $50 for every three-point basket she makes this WNBA basketball season. The Connecticut Sun Foundation, the Mohegan tribe, and author Sally Jenkins, who has written two books about Pat Summit, have all pledged to match the money Lawson earns this season.
Coach Summitt and her son, Tyler, started the Pat Summitt Foundation last year to provide grants to organizations that spread awareness and educate people about Alzheimer's, its onset and treatment, provide support services to patients, their families and caregivers, and do research to treat, prevent, cure, and ultimately eradicate this disease.