Hoops for Hannah was born of our family’s desire to help in the fight against brain cancer after losing Hannah at 32. A courageous fighter always, she never allowed this disease to become who she was. Hannah was a skilled potter, devoted family member, ice cream lover, UConn basketball fanatic and dog lover. Growing up, our family came together during the basketball tournament, always filling out brackets and competing for family bragging rights. The tournament is fun, easy, and deeply connected to Hannah making it a perfect fit in our quest to raise funds for brain tumor research. This annual fundraiser has no entry fee, a $1,000 prize and 100% of donations are divided equally between The Musella Foundation for Brain Tumor Research & Information, Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2) and the Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance.
After Hannah’s 1st surgery on Good Friday in March, 2005 the nurses were testing her memory for deficits. She was working her way through the questions, but was also growing impatient with the process. She finally brought an end to the whole thing by rattling off all of the teams that would be playing in the basketball tournament that weekend.
Read about Hannah and her sister here:
I visited Winthrop often in the winter of 2012 to share as much time as possible with Hannah. Basketball was always a backdrop to so many of these memories, almost embedded as part of their life, perhaps as we were having dinner or just spending precious moments together. It might be the college game of the moment, or the Celtics, or even the night that an ad for an upcoming Globetrotters appearance had Hannah planning an outing for the entire family to Portland, Maine.
Hannah always made a point of watching the Jimmy V Classic games, and she never missed Coach Valvano’s speech. Of course this struck much closer to home after her diagnosis in 2005. In her final months we watched it together on what was a very emotional evening.
Valvano’s amazing message includes the line that “the cancer can take my body, but it can’t touch my heart and it can’t touch my mind”. One of the horrors of brain tumors is they can touch your mind. They can alter your abilities and change who you are. Hannah was only impacted by this very late in her illness. For many, many other survivors and their loved ones the impact of these changes can be devastating.