YORK, PA – York College freshman women's basketball player Abbey Rhodes (Hanover, Pa./Hanover) wants to make a difference. Rhodes has a track record with making a difference.
Rhodes and the York College women's basketball team will hold a "Teddy Bear Toss" during halftime of the Spartans' January 3 non-conference contest against Elizabethtown College.
The Spartans are asking that spectators and fans bring a new or gently used stuffed animal to the game. During halftime, anyone with a stuffed animal will be able to toss them onto the court to be donated to Caitlyn's Smiles. Caitlyn's Smiles is an organization that distributes the collected bears to children in hospitals across the region.
In addition, the Spartans will also be selling purple shirts and taking donations to raise money for the Kimmel Center, focusing on pediatric cancer research at Johns Hopkins.
Rhodes knows pediatric cancer a little too well. She found a grapefruit-sized tumor the summer before her freshman year at Hanover. She had the non-cancerous tumor removed at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital. It was during her five-day stay at Hopkins recovering from the surgery that she was inspired to do something about pediatric cancer.
"Being in a hospital is no fun," said the Spartan freshman. "I got the idea from the Hershey Bears and I thought it would be great to do it at my school."
Rhodes started the "Teddy Bear Toss" during her freshman year at Hanover. In her four years as a Night Hawk, the toss collected over 5,000 teddy bears.
Rhodes is hoping that the tradition will take root and grow at Wolf Gymnasium.
"It will take time to get going here but I am excited to get everything together and get it going," said Rhodes. "I hope it will become a tradition."
Spartan head coach Betsy Witman has always been a supporter of the fight against Cancer and the "Teddy Bear Toss" is just another way her program can make a contribution.
"We believe that it is important to give back and we have always done a great job with contributing to the fight against Cancer. When Abbey came in, she asked if we could do it and it was a no-brainer," says Witman. "We are all looking forward to being able to give Caitlyn's Smiles a bunch of teddy bears."
Game time is set for 6:00 pm at Wolf Gymnasium.