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• WHAT: Shoot Out!, a UVa student-athlete fundraiser for cancer research.
• WHERE: Carr’s Hill Field, located at Emmet/Ivy intersection
• WHEN: Sunday, May 2nd, 1-4 p.m.
• PARKING: Free parking is available in the Emmet/Ivy garage or Culbreth garage
• FOR KIDS: 3 carnival inflatable activities, UVa athletes including the National Champions UVa men’s soccer team at 3:30 p.m., food
• SILENT AUCTION: With UVa team memorabilia, professional sport memorabilia and other local items.
• FOOD: Raisin’ Cains, Chipotle, Dominoes Pizza, Sticks, Bodos, Pepsi products, vegetables tray, fresh fruit and more
• COST: $5 per person. All proceeds go to support Dr Michael Douvas’s pediatric cancer research in leukemia through the UVa Cancer Center. Tickets can be purchased from student-athletes, the Life Skills Office at UVa, or at the gate.
NOTE: Severe weather cancels.

Jerome Meyinsse was arguably one of the ACC’s most improved players this past season, averaging 6.5 points for the Cavaliers, tallying a team-leading 23 blocks, and even posting a career-high 21 points against eventual NCAA champion Duke.

How is it then that Virginia’s starting center should still expect to be upstaged by a bunch of little kids at this Sunday‘s Shoot Out for Cancer?

“We usually set up an inflatable obstacle course, and every year, there’s a kid who calls out a student-athlete to race at the inflatable,” the 6-9, 230-pound Meyinsse explained. “Most of the time, they beat us because they’re smaller and more agile.”

While the obstacle course might frustrate some and entertain others, it’s just one of the many activities offered at the Shoot Out, a fundraising event hosted annually by Virginia student-athletes to raise money for cancer research. Scheduled to be held this Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. at Carr’s Hill Field, the Shoot Out for Cancer attracts families from all over the greater Charlottesville area and affords kids the chance to compete against their favorite Cavaliers at sports like soccer, volleyball, and football.

As in recent years, Sunday’s carnival-like atmosphere will also feature an inflatable moon bounce, Velcro wall, and the ever-popular obstacle course in addition to face-painting by the Virginia cheerleaders and an appearance by UVa’s national champion men’s soccer team.

“We basically try to fit as many activities as we can into the day to make it a really valuable experience for everyone that shows up,” said Virginia junior distance runner Simon Biddle-Snead, who counts throwing kids against the Velcro wall as one of his fondest memories from last year’s event. “I want every kid that shows up to leave with really fond memories. I want them all to have a really great time, and I want them to feel like they have a really good relationship with UVa athletics.”

This relationship is something the Shoot Out for Cancer has worked hard to build since it was first established in 1993 by Tom Henske, the starting goalkeeper on the Virginia men’s soccer team at the time and an eventual two-time All-American.

Inspired by former Virginia teammate Curt Onalfo, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease two years after graduating while playing for a French professional league, Henske organized the first Shoot Out in hopes of raising awareness and money for pediatric cancer treatment and research. While Onalfo would eventually recover and has since gone on to a successful coaching career-currently with D.C. United-the fundraiser itself has not only endured, but its popularity has actually increased over time.

Passed down from Henske to the University’s Student Athlete Mentor (SAM) organization, the Shoot Out has gradually broadened its theme to encompass games outside of just soccer. Meanwhile, the event has not only continued to attract more and more members of the Charlottesville community each year, but it has grown within the actual athletics department itself, as well, now “involving as many athletes as possible,” according to Biddle-Snead.

While the SAM is also in charge of coordinating the community service projects of individual sports’ teams throughout the year, the Shoot Out for Cancer remains its primary department-wide fundraiser. Divided into three groups centered around event planning, advertising, and school outreach, the organization has been hard at work for over four months organizing this year’s event-an effort Biddle-Snead and his fellow SAMs hope will yield dividends when the final proceeds are tabulated Sunday.

“We want the event to keep improving, and one of the things we feel that will help that is raising more and more money every year,” said Biddle-Snead, who considers participating in the SAM program his favorite experience in his three years at UVa. “We raised over $6,000 last year, so this year, the target is anywhere above that.”

Although the monetary goal, which will benefit the University’s Cancer Center, has changed over the past 18 years, the motive behind the Shoot Out for Cancer has nevertheless remained the same.

“It’s an opportunity for us to meet Charlottesville kids and parents and imprint them with a good view of student-athletes at the University,” swimmer Scot Robison said. “The kids are all so fun and energetic that they probably leave just as big of an impression on us as we do on them.”

“They support us, and we want to show our appreciation by supporting what is important to them,” added hurdler Kristina Chapman. “Athletes at UVa do more than just play sports. We care about the community, and it’s important to help others out.”

Even when it means getting beat by 10-year-olds on an obstacle course.

– story by Cayce Troxel

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