KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — All these years later, Norm Stewart considers himself fortunate to have survived.
The longtime Missouri coach collapsed on a team plane bound for Oklahoma in 1989, and was diagnosed with colon cancer. He missed the final 14 games that season, at a time when so little was known about cancer that "there was a lot of guesswork going on," Stewart said.
"People guessed right at my deal," he said, "and so I'm a lucky survivor."
There have been plenty of advances made in the fight against cancer since then, and many of them have been made with the assistance of Coaches vs Cancer, the organization that Stewart and his wife, Virginia, helped to found 20 years ago.
What started as a way to raise money at Missouri has grown into a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and has already raised more than $100 million to support the mission to eradicate cancer.
"The thing about it is I'd lost my mother to cancer, and I was just recovering from cancer, so it was kind of a no-brainer," Stewart said in an interview Tuesday. "But no one I think had any idea the magnitude of what it's become, and it's only going to become bigger. It's pleasing, and the main thing is we're raising money, and we're making advances on cancer."
Stewart was the guest of honor at Coaches vs Cancer's annual tipoff event at Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium on Tuesday night, and was joined by plenty of dignitaries.
Among those who attended the fundraising dinner, auction and celebration were Kansas coach Bill Self, current Missouri coach Frank Haith, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall and new Missouri-Kansas City coach Kareem Richardson.