Pat Summitt expressed her appreciation Tuesday to the SEC and officials from her foundation detailed more ways to join the fight against Alzheimer's disease.
The former Tennessee women's basketball coach spoke during a press conference at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. The event was held in conjunction with the SEC's "We Back Pat" week, an initiative established last year to bring awareness and help raise funds for the Pat Summitt Foundation, a fund of East Tennessee Foundation. This year, 17 women's basketball games will help continue the promotional efforts on the foundation's behalf.
Tennessee's designated game is at 1 p.m. Sunday against Alabama.
"I am honored and humbled that the Southeastern Conference schools continue to support the work of the Pat Summitt Foundation's fight against Alzheimer's," said Summitt, who is the Lady Vols head coach emeritus.
Patrick Wade, the foundation's director, said that last year's "We Back Pat" week funded grants of $28,000 apiece to the University of Tennessee's Cole
Neuroscience Center and Alzheimer's Tennessee.
"The SEC really got behind it and made everything happen," Wade said. "And this year, we were able to plan a little more."
Jim Haslam II, chairman of the foundation's advisory board, demonstrated a new feature at Tuesday's event, texting the word "coach" to the number 50555 as a way to donate $10 to the foundation.
At Sunday's game, representatives of Sam's Club stores in East Tennessee will present a $20,000 grant. News Sentinel officials, meanwhile, will present proceeds from the sale of a 2011 Summitt commemorative edition.
Local portrait artist Carl Hess, a UT graduate, unveiled a painting Tuesday depicting scenes from Summitt's eight national championships at Tennessee. A hundred signed prints will be sold and Hess will donate half of the proceeds to the foundation. Prints will be on sale at Sunday's game.
Summitt's foundation was established in November of 2011 by Summitt and her son, Tyler, to make grants to nonprofit organizations that provide Alzheimer's education and research as well as support services. Summitt announced in August of 2011 that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.