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The Sam Robb Memorial Holiday Classic: A Volunteer’s Perspective

For a college student, the holidays are the one time of year in which they can relax. No school, exams, jobs or responsibilities allow for many to take time and re-energize themselves for the next semester. But some take a different approach to their holiday break thanks to CURE and the Sam Robb Fund. Students from a diverse college backgrounds give their time to participate as volunteers at the annual 3-day fundraising basketball tournament.

The Sam Robb Memorial Holiday Classic is an annual amateur basketball tournament that raises money for the Sam Robb Fund in support of a CURE Childhood Cancer Research Fellow in pediatric oncology at Emory University School of Medicine. The tournament has logged thousands of volunteer hours over it’s nine year history and many of those tasks and hours are completed by a dedicated group of college students. Each year their efforts support the tournament operations. Hailing from UGA, Indiana University, Auburn, UT, Georgia Southern, South Carolina and Ole Miss means that these students cheer for opposing teams on college game days. But for these 3 days each December, they all come together for a common cause: raising money for and spreading awareness of childhood cancer and the devastating effects it can have on a family.

Recording service hours for their participation in clubs and organizations is a nice perk. However, the primary incentive for these kids is to do the right thing. Many have seen the effects of childhood cancers in their lives and want to give back. “Having lost a close friend of mine to cancer drives me to do all I can in order to raise money for finding a cure. The Sam Robb Fund allows for a community as a whole to give back through the Memorial Holiday Classic.”, says junior Andrew Riel, student at The University of Tennessee.

The tournament boasts a die-hard group of college supporters including several Division 1 athletes, analytics specialists and aspiring photographers. The common mission of this collective talent is to fight against childhood cancer. Senior UI football player, Sean Damaska, went the extra mile this year. After his team’s December 27th bowl game in New York City, Sean woke at 4 a.m. the next morning to drive to Georgia to support the Robb Family’s basketball tournament.

“I have been volunteering at the Sam Robb basketball tournament since its start in 2006 and I would not have missed it for the world”, stated Damaska. “I participate because I love the Robbs and it is nice to see our community continue to come together every year to support the cause of fighting childhood cancer.”

Even though these students attend different colleges across the southeast, discovering a cure for childhood cancer is a common goal and a great way to brings sometime rivals together. Volunteering for the Sam Robb Classic for all 9 years, Auburn sophomore, Ethan Cerone, was also once a tournament player. He continues to participant “because I know the work I do helps with a cause that is bigger than me. . . and I love to see the new young talents in the game.”

For more information about the tournament, click here.