By David Klein
The Knoxville community comes together again Friday night, March 6, to support cancer patients in their fight against cancer. The fourth annual Game On Against Cancer takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. at Games and Things on Kingston Pike. The event raises funds for the Thompson Cares program at the Thompson Cancer Survival Center. Thompson Cares helps cancer patients at the Thompson Cancer Survival Center with basic living expenses such as housing, medications, and transportation so that patients can focus on their cancer treatments.
“The Thompson Cares fund is available to help folks with those kinds of expenses when they get into a tight place, when they can’t work, but they still need to keep their utilities on, food in the pantry, gas in the car. That fund is available to help them through times like that,” Laura Wallace, Director of Marketing and Communication at the Covenant Health Office of Philanthropy said. Scott and Lisa Mellon who co-own Games and Things, began the event after Lisa had met some of the cancer patients at the Thompson Cancer Survival Center and felt a need to help.
Scott Mellon, co-owner of Games and Things, said the night is a casual event. “This is a more casual atmosphere,” he said. “This is laid-back, lots of fun. Every volunteer we’ve had has come back every year. All the money stays right here in Knoxville. It’s going to help people with cancer right here in Knoxville,” Mellon emphasized.
Local media celebrities such as Hallerin Hilton Hill, Ted Hall, and others will be playing games against the public. Some of the games guests can challenge the celebrities on are shuffleboard, billiards, darts, blackjack, air hockey, foosball, and table tennis. New this year will be corn hole. Celebrities will sign up to play a game during a time slot and challenge three guests during that time slot, according to Wallace.
Mellon emphasized that attendees don’t have to play against celebrities.” There are other games that they can play,” he said. “People shouldn’t feel intimidated by having to play a celebrity with a camera on them.”
Tickets are $50 and include food from Calhouns and wine and beer, and one game against a celebrity. Last year, the event raised $48,000 for Thompson Cares, Mellon said.
There is also a silent auction with a lot of sports memorabilia. “Jeff Jacoby has been instrumental in pulling some great auction items together for us,” Wallace said. She mentioned there is a table tennis table from Brunswick, autographed sports items from Pat Summitt, John Ward, Seattle Seahawks’ Head Coach Pete Carroll, a Russell Wilson autographed helmet, and other signed memorabilia. There are many rounds of golf available, a weekend stay in the Smokies, and a week-long trip to Vail, Co., up for bid among other items. Wallace and Mellon said the goal for fundraising this year is $50,000. Mellon said he expects 300 people to turn out this year.
On a personal level, Wallace said about the event, “I like to see the incredible number of people who are willing to come out to an event like this and have a really good time, but also know that we’re doing it for a really good reason,” Wallace said.
“I think the role that Thompson Cares plays is key,” Wallace continued. “We want our patients to be able to come to us and concentrate on the business of survival. Thompson Cares takes away some of their other worries so that they can do that.”