The impact of Hurricane Sandy has reached the fund-raising efforts of former Tennessee Lady Vol Kara Lawson.
She was planning to run in the New York Marathon's 5K race on Sunday while her husband, Damien Barling, was going to run the 26.2 miles. Both races now have been cancelled, interrupting a personal marathon of sorts Lawson has been staging in honor of former UT women's basketball coach Pat Summitt.
Barling ran the full marathon last year and Lawson ran the 5K. Their motivation was Summitt, who announced in August of 2011 that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia Alzheimer's type. They raised $17,780, embarking on a fund-raising effort that continued through Lawson's season this summer and fall with the Connecticut Sun.
"The motivation doesn't end just because
the announcement happened how many months ago,'' said Lawson. "With Coach Summitt, her challenges are day to day. For me, it was attacking (this undertaking) in the same way. That's my personality. ... If you're willing to do something every day and not take days off, then you have a chance to make an impact. That's one of the things Coach Summitt taught me."
Lawson forged ahead by conceiving a plan involving her 3-point shooting to assist Summitt's Foundation, which was established last November to boost Alzheimer's education and research as well as support services. A strong offseason of conditioning was the motivation behind Lawson's 3-point plan.
"I knew the kind of year I was going to have; I knew it was going to be really good," said Lawson, who also works as a basketball analyst for ESPN. "I was trying to find a way to use that to get more exposure for the foundation. I thought it was a good idea in terms of fund-raising. I didn't know if something like that would resonate with people."
Lawson established her donation at $50 per trey and busied herself with making 3-pointers. She picked up matching offers from five other sources, including Summitt biographer Sally Jenkins and the Connecticut Sun Foundation. Her career-best 87 treys translated into $21,750. Lawson added the $5,000 she received for winning the Kim Perrot sportsmanship award.
"We don't really have a master plan," said Lawson, who was an All-American at UT in 2003 and an Olympic gold medalist in 2008. "Each year we learn more about what we can do to raise money."
For her, a pressing challenge is keeping Summitt's foundation in the public eye, especially after Summitt stepped down in April as Tennessee's head coach to become a head coach emeritus.
"Sometimes with the general public, if it's not right there in front of them, it kind of gets lost," Lawson said.
The New York City Marathon likely will return to the fundraising calendar of Lawson and Barling for next year. In the meantime, Lawson has learned enough about Alzheimer's and its far-reaching impact to know that if someone recognizes her, they are more apt to compliment her fund-raising efforts than to comment on her basketball background.
"To me," she said, "that's much more impactful."