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Dec. 1, 2009

12:08 p.m.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — He’s never been roasted — at least not in such a public setting — but that will change Wednesday night for Barry Parkhill.

He’s ready. Let his brother, Bruce, and friends Tom Brennan, Bob Rotella and Tony Markel fire away at him.

“I’ll take the plug for this anytime,” said Parkhill, the former UVa basketball great who’s now associate director of athletics for development at his alma mater.

Anyway, he added, “I don’t think those guys are going to bust my chops too bad. They’ve got to remember that I get the mike last.”

The occasion is the 18th annual MS Dinner of Champions, and it starts with a reception Wednesday at 6 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena. The dinner’s sponsor is the Blue Ridge Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which will present Parkhill with its highest honor, the Silver Hope Award.

Previous recipients include the late Hovey S. Dabney, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Gene Corrigan, Carter Beauford, the late LeRoi Moore, Boyd Tinsley and John Casteen.

Parkhill says he’s not sure why the MS Society chose him, but he’s happy to honor the memory of his friend and former teammate Scott McCandlish.

McCandlish, who lettered at UVa in 1970, ’71 and ’72, learned he had multiple sclerosis “right after he got out of school here,” Parkhill said.

After graduating from the University, McCandlish coached under former UVa player Chip Conner at South Florida. McCandlish, who left UVa as the school’s all-time leader in rebounds with 761, later returned to this area and became head basketball coach at Charlottesville High School.

“When I moved back [to Charlottesville], I just saw a slow, gradual deterioration of his health,” Parkhill said.

In 2004, McCandlish and his wife returned to his hometown of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Parkhill visited them there several times before McCandlish’s death in early 2007.

“So I saw the effects [of MS],” Parkhill said. “There are a lot of great causes out there, but this is certainly one of them.”

The MS Dinner of Champions is a major fundraiser for the Blue Ridge chapter. The chapter’s all-time record is $213,300, and the mark may fall this year.

The Blue Ridge chapter serves about 3,000 people with MS in 51 counties in Virginia. Money raised supports MS research as well as local programs to improve patients’ quality of life, chapter president Fay Painter said.

To donate to the Blue Ridge chapter, or for more information about the MS Dinner of Champions, call (434) 971-8010 or visit

Jeff White

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