Coaches vs. Cancer, Bestwick Foundation car drawing fundraiser helps groups fight disease

To the blare of trumpets, heads turned to the infield grass on Medlar Field at Lubrano Park as the Penn State Blue Band performed a private concert for patrons of the eighth annual Reverse Car Drawing event that helped raise money and awareness about cancer.

For the crowd of 702 attendees, the marching band was their favorite part of the night as they unanimously tapped their foot to the beat of the drum line.

“Not many functions get a personal concert by the Blue Band,” said patron Patti Davidson. “It kind of gets your arm hair to stand up.”

On Thursday night, Coaches vs. Cancer teamed up with the Bestwick Foundation to host the event.

The eighth annual drawing was a way to both give back to a community that annually supports the fundraiser and to give back to the local organizations in the fight for a cancer cure.

“Our theme is ‘one team,’ ” said Steve Greer, of the Bestwick Foundation and co-founder of Coaches vs. Cancer. “We’re here to honor those who have passed away from cancer, celebrate the survivors and fight for a cure.”

At the end of the event, Greer said one person walked away with one of two vehicles: A Lincoln MKZ or a Ford Boss 302 Mustang.

How the drawing worked was throughout the night, tickets were drawn that made the patron eligible. Greer said the name on the last ticket remaining was the winner.

About a decade ago, drawing founder Dan Rollis said, he came up with the idea after his brother passed away in 2000 from a brain tumor.

“I reached out to the American Cancer Society to see what I needed to do to set up a fundraiser. I had a passion for cars and this was the best thing to combine the two,” Rollis said.

The proceeds are split between the Bestwick Foundation and Coaches vs. Cancer, a group that helps fund other local charities in the fight against cancer.

Penn State men’s basketball coach Pat Chambers said this was the third year he’s been involved in the event. Although he has not been personally impacted by cancer in his immediate family, loved ones around him have been affected.

“It’s affected my wife’s family and some of my team and it ultimately comes down to me as well, because these are the people I’m closest with,” Chambers said. “We’re here to keep this on the forefront of people’s minds and be persistent about fighting cancer.”

Greer said for a $350 a ticket, patrons were given catered food, live entertainment and were in the running for the reverse car drawing.

Last year, Rollis said, about $50,000 was raised that was split between local organizations that include the Hope Lodge of Central Pennsylvania in Hummelstown. This year, he expects about the same amount to be raised.

“We have people who come out and support us each year and this is a way to give back to them who have been so supportive, while still giving back to a great cause,” Rollis said.