First ladies of basketball

Lend support to Cards for the Cure

WRITTEN BY AMY BIRD

Megan Weber, Lynn Marshall and Cindy Self

Megan Weber, Lynn Marshall and Cindy Self

Spike Anderson discovered Texas Hold ‘Em in college while playing baseball at Wichita State University in the mid ’90s. He was instantly hooked.

Following college he got involved with a poker tournament that raised scholarship funds for graduates of his alma mater, Valley Center High School. A seed was planted. Anderson began dreaming about a large-scale tournament to support a national cause.

In 2011, Anderson, a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, decided it was finally time to parlay a fun night with the guys into something more. Cards for the Cure was born.

In its first two years, the Kansas Poker Championship tournament, which donates 100 percent of its proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure foundation for breast cancer, generated $105,000. Anderson plans to match that this year alone through sponsorships and by expanding the tournament to 1,000 players. A $100 suggested donation buys participants a seat and a chance for one of 50 cash prizes, including the $10,000 champion’s purse.

Although Anderson jokes that the tournament initially started as an excuse to have a poker tournament, he says his involvement with the Komen foundation has personalized the cause he supports.

“We had a kick off party in October and had a breast cancer survivor come and speak,” he says of the emotional evening. “It really put a face to our work. It’s not just a fun poker tournament. It impacts people’s lives.”

In addition to the tournament Jan. 26 at the Hyatt Regency downtown, a VIP event will be held Friday, Jan. 25, at the Hampton Inn at Kansas Star Casino. Celebrity guests include Derek Norris of the Oakland Athletics, Mike Pelfrey of the New York Mets and Lynn Dickey of the Green Bay Packers.

Spike also has garnered the support of the women behind the men who coach the state’s great basketball programs: Cindy Self, Megan Weber and Lynn Marshall.

Cindy Self

Cindy Self

Cindy Self, University of Kansas

When Cindy Self’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer 19 years ago her connection to cancer became personal. And in the years since, Self says that, unfortunately, the connections have grown.

“I have many friends who have been through breast cancer and ovarian cancer,” she says. “I think the awareness is out there, so now it’s getting the funds for research to try to find the cure.”

For Self, philanthropy and volunteer work are important aspects of being part of a community. It is this conviction that led Self and her husband, Bill Self, Head Coach of the men’s basketball team at KU, to start the Assists Foundation, which promotes the health and wellness of youth in Kansas City, Kan., and Lawrence. It also is why she was quick to lend her support to Cards for the Cure when friends Robert and Suzette Moore told her about the event.

“I’m happy to help where I can,” she says.

This is true with her basketball family as well.

“It’s just important to be there, be supportive and help the boys feel comfortable because most of their parents aren’t around,” she says.

Although the Selfs have been intentional about creating family time with their daughter, Lauren, a senior at KU, and their son, Tyler, who is now a freshman at KU, being a part of larger “team” has always been their normal.

“As they’ve grown up, our kids have been so involved and emotionally connected to the team,” she reveals. “Our team is our family. It’s just a way of life.”

This year, Self says it has been fun to see the KU “family” take on new meaning with Tyler on the team roster.

An ardent supporter of all things KU basketball, Self adds that it’s helpful just being associated with the program to draw attention to causes important to their family and the community.

 
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