Legislators will win bragging rights and raise funds for the UNM Cancer Center

Albuquerque, NM—February 25, 2011—Just in time for March Madness, New Mexico legislators are hitting the hardwood on Thursday, March 3, for this year’s “Hoops 4 Hope” Legislative Basketball Game. The House “Aggies” and the Senate “Lobos” will face off in a fast-paced basketball game that doubles as a fundraiser for the University of New Mexico Cancer Center.

Channeling the state’s longstanding sports rivalry, House players will wear the white home-team jerseys of the New Mexico State University Aggies, while Senate players will suit up in the red away-team jerseys of the University of New Mexico Lobos. All proceeds from the event benefit the UNM Cancer Center, the Official Cancer Center of New Mexico and the only cancer center in the state designated by the National Cancer Institute, an honor it shares with just 65 other cancer centers nationwide.

“Not only is ‘Hoops 4 Hope’ an incredibly fun event for all involved, it is also an important source of support for the UNM Cancer Center’s service to the people of New Mexico,” said Dr. Cheryl Willman, Director and CEO of the UNM Cancer Center. “We are so grateful to the legislature for their dedication to combating cancer in our state. The proceeds from the Legislative Basketball Game help us deliver the cutting-edge, compassionate care that every New Mexican deserves.”

Cancer is a leading cause of death in New Mexico, second only to heart disease. More than 8,800 New Mexicans experience a life-altering cancer diagnosis each year, according to statistics from the New Mexico Tumor Registry, housed at the UNM Cancer Center. Over 65% of New Mexican adults and virtually all of the state’s children affected by cancer receive treatment at the UNM Cancer Center. Last year’s Legislative Basketball Game raised more than $10,000, a record amount.

Game proceeds have benefitted the UNM Cancer Center since 2004, when legislators decided to use the game to support the Center in honor of Rep. Ray Ruiz, who died of lung cancer earlier that year. The New Mexico legislature has been instrumental in the UNM Cancer Center’s success from the beginning. In 1971, it appropriated $1 million for the Center’s construction and another $100,000 for planning and staffing.

In 1986, the legislature allocated a three-cent cigarette tax increase to support cancer and cigarette-related disease research at UNM; the resulting annual allocation has funded important scientific research into cancer causes and cures at the UNM Cancer Center for 25 years.

The 2011 “Hoops 4 Hope” Legislative Basketball Game will take place on Thursday, March 3, at the Santa Fe High School gym, located at 2100 Yucca Road in Santa Fe. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm. Tickets cost $5 per person and may be purchased in advance in Room 125 of the Capitol or at the door on game night.

About the UNM Cancer CenterThe UNM Cancer Center is the Official Cancer Center of New Mexico and the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center in the state. As one of just 66 NCI-designated cancer centers nationwide, the UNM Cancer Center is recognized for its scientific excellence, contributions to cancer research and delivery of medical advances to patients and their families. It is home to 85 board-certified oncology physicians representing every cancer specialty and more than 125 research scientists hailing from such prestigious institutions as M.D. Anderson, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic.

The UNM Cancer Center treats more than 65% of the adults and virtually all of the children in New Mexico affected by cancer, from every county in the state. In 2010, it provided care to more than 15,800 cancer patients. The Center’s research programs are supported by over $59 million annually in federal and private funding.

UNM Cancer Center contact informationDorothy Hornbeck, JKPR, (505) 797-6673, dhornbeck@jameskorenchen.com Rae Ann Paden, UNM Cancer Center, (505) 925-0480, RPaden@salud.unm.edu


Contact: Luke Frank, 272-3322