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Via their annual "Shoot Down Cancer" fundraising efforts, the Bellmont girls basketball team has raised over $5,000 this year, with some of that money going to local causes and some to the national Jimmy V Foundation.
For the past eight seasons, the Bellmont squad has conducted the fundraiser, and over $70,000 has been raised, including $66,429 during the first seven years of the charity work.
Veteran Bellmont coach Lou Koning, who has been battling a form of Luekemia this year, and his wife Vicki, a cancer survivor, started the effort during the 2003-2004 school year. The players get pledges per made free throw, and they shoot 100 free throws.
All-NHC selection Dana Kaczmarek led the 2011 Bellmont girls with 93 made free throws while Mikala Quinn put in 92, Madison Schultz 89, Taylor Kuhnle 86, Brooke Zimmerman 85, Sara Williamson 84, Allison Gutierrez 83, and Payton Schultz 82.
Ashley Piper led the jayvee team with 86 made tosses out of 100, while Courtney Scherer and Audrey Schultz both connected on 85. Megan Scherer put in 80, Ivy Settlemeyer 78,, Alexa Singleton 70 and Erin Engstrom 65.
Head coach Tory Fuelling dropped in 95 and jayvee coach Matt Converset ripped the nets 90 times.
Lou Koning has been undergoing treatment for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia at the Ohio State University's James Cancer Center in Columbus, Oh. Lou is participating in trial treatments and is optimistic that he will make a strong recovery and he’s completed one cycle.
After 38 years of coaching, Lou stepped away this year, but did sit on the bench late in the season for a few games. His classroom duties stopped on Oct. 25, 2010, and he is unlikely to return as a Bellmont teacher.
“Right now Lou is resting and was so glad to complete cycle 1 and get the three weeks off before cycle 2 of his trial treatments,” noted Vicki Koning.
“Lou really appreciates the cards and words of support he has received from his friends and former players,” adds Mrs. Koning.
Of the over $70,000 collected locally, $18,522.60 has gone to the Adams Memorial Oncology Unit (The Paul and Kathryn Strickler Institute). The local American Cancer Society-Relay for Life fund has received $16,209.87 from the Bellmont girls' efforts. The V Foundation has benefitted by $14,946.87 in the first seven years of the program.
Meri Everett, a former BHS basketball player, was awarded $2000 toward her expenses last year after being treated for cancer. She now has relapsed and again is under treatment at Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Tx.
As a thankyou to the Bellmont players and coaches for their “Shoot Down Cancer” efforts, a luncheon was provided for them at the Adams Memorial Hospital cafeteria. Of the funds raised this year, $1,500 has gone to the Strickler Cancer Institute.
At the event, the BHS girls presented Coach Koning with a framed and signed photo of the squad, with the word “courage” written on it. This was for the courage and positive attitude Lou has exhibited during cancer treatments, and because the girls missed his presence during the season.
Lou participated in the free throw challenge, hitting five of 20 shots, which is way off of his game.