Vote for Huggins' Charity in Coaches Challenge - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Vote for Huggins' Charity in Coaches Challenge

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MORGANTOWN -

Bob Huggins has his hands full with the West Virginia basketball team right now, trying to right the ship with the Mountaineers heading to Purdue to take on the Boilermakers on Saturday.

In the meantime, he's facing another challenge.

It's the Infiniti Coaches Challenge and Huggins is up against 47 other NCAA men's basketball coaches who are trying to raise money for a certain charity. For Huggins, it's the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment Fund. Just by entering, he gets $5,000. But if he wins, he'll come away with $100,000 for WVU's Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center.

A year ago, he won his region in the bracket for the challenge and made it to the Final Four.

"The difference between finishing first and second is $95,000," the Mountaineer head coach says bluntly.

Huggins knew that feeling all too well a year ago when he fell to Ohio State Coach Thad Matta, who was in the Challenge for the Ronald McDonald House.

Huggs is adamant about his cause. He lost his mother to cancer and he understands that it's a disease that affects so many people not only in the state of West Virginia, but in the world. His hope is to win that $100,000 grand prize and to then keep the money right here in his home state at West Virginia University's Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center.

"That's ours," Huggins says of the Cancer Center. "That's what we have in our state, so we all need to do everything we can possibly do to continue to give them the resources to be able to do good things."

The work Huggins has done to raise money for cancer research has not gone unnoticed by those who benefit directly from the funds at WVU's Cancer Center. Scot Remick, the center's director, doesn't hide his elation with regards to the work the school's basketball coach is doing for the disease Remick fights every single day.

"We're so excited. It's such a tremendous opportunity for our cancer center," Remick says of the work Huggins has done. "It's special for him because it means so much to him and to his family to memorialize his mother and this is something that has a legacy going back many years. When Coach Huggins returned to his native state, he has really led the charge in raising awareness and building support for cancer research at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center."

Remick says that Huggins' foundation alone has raised three quarters of a million dollars and with his efforts enabling and encouraging others to donate, more than $1.6 million has gone to the Cancer Center.

"The Cancer Center is certainly growing by leaps and bounds," says Remick. "We're gaining a national profile that's really exciting. We really provide cancer care for all types of cancer, so we have the ability to attract and take care of patients and their family with a variety of cancers."

Huggins says his goal is for the endowment fund to reach that one million dollar mark, but not to stop there.

"I'll tell you what it means. When we reach a million, then we need to get another million," says Huggins. "We need to continue to fund it, we need to continue to raise money. I'll be very happy when we've reached the day when we've raised $10 million."

Both Huggins and Remick agree that every single donation will play a major role in reaching those milestones, regardless of how small the monetary value.

"Those fish fries and the different events that he's hosted, every dollar counts," says Remick, who acknowledges how important is it to have a star coach like Huggins on his side. "Every dollar is reinvested here in the state, in our institution and he's really enabling new opportunities for cancer trials."

A native West Virginian, Huggins has always expressed how important it is to him that the money he helps raise stays in the Mountain State. When he sees the work the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center is doing, he knows his efforts are paying off.

Now he can raise an additional $100,000, but he needs your help. The Infiniti Coaches Challenge is strictly based on a fan vote. You can log on to ESPN.com/Infiniti and choose Huggins, who is in the East Region.

As of Friday evening, Huggins is in a three-way tie for third place in his region. You can vote once each day from now through Feb. 27, when the regional voting ends.

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