The tournament was organized in 2009 by the Howard Family, who lost both of their parents, decades apart, from different forms of head and neck cancer. Their goal in creating the tournament was two-fold: 1.) to raise awareness of these cancers and 2.) to provide financial support for patients in treatment. Tournament organizer Christine Tatum and her siblings believed then, and continue to believe, that “we have the resources to defeat this disease if we are dedicated to the cause.”
This year, the event was supported by 228 players from all ages and backgrounds who registered for the tournament and 20 volunteers who helped the event go off without a hitch. Since its inception, Smash Cancer has raised over $150,000 to support the Head & Neck Cancer Alliance in its mission.
HNCA Executive Director, Amanda Hollinger, attended the tournament and sat down with Ms. Tatum to learn more about the tournament.
HNCA: What’s your favorite part of hosting Smash Cancer each year?
“My favorite thing is watching all of the players come together and support this worthy cause. It is so much fun to see everyone bringing their friends and families to watch them play. I especially love watching our young players competing and succeeding against our more mature players. It is great to see people from such diverse ages, skill levels and backgrounds competing and enjoying themselves while supporting this cause so near and dear to my heart.”
HNCA: How has Smash Cancer changed from its first year until now?
“In our first year we had 75 players and very few volunteers and sponsors. We have grown to between 225 and 250 players on average each year now and have very loyal volunteers and sponsors every year. This has become the premier tournament for the local community. We have had players travel from as far as Colorado to participate in the tournament and new friendships are formed each year.”
HNCA: What role do volunteers play, and how can others get involved?
“Our volunteers are key to our success each year. We have been blessed to have a core group of volunteers throughout the history. We are always in need of people to help during the tournament and screening in any of our key areas: hospitality, screening, silent auction and tournament desk. If interested, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Becoming a patient with a serious illness after practicing medicine for over 40 years allowed me to understand the hardship and difficulties that patients face in ways I could not have done before.Itzhak Brook, M.D. Msc. Physician and Professor of Pediatrics, Georgetown University School of Medicine and Throat Cancer Survivor