Jan. 15, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The second-annual "We Back Pat" Week, supported by the Southeastern Conference and all 14 league schools, is under way. Tennessee participated in the first recognized game on Sunday morning at Florida and will do so again on Thursday night at Auburn before proudly hosting its own to close out the week.
The ninth-ranked Lady Vol basketball team (13-3/4-0 SEC) will participate in its third "We Back Pat" game of the week on Sunday, this time at Thompson-Boling Arena on its home court known as "The Summitt." Alabama (11-6/1-3 SEC) joins UT to commemorate the occasion with a 1 p.m. tipoff in a game televised by CSS.
Tennessee and Alabama fans are encouraged to wear "We Back Pat" shirts or purple apparel to Sunday's contest to show their support for the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund and the fight against Alzheimer's. "We Back Pat" shirts and "Fierce Courage" wrist bands will be on sale at the game and can be purchased any time at the UT Bookstore on campus, shop.utsports.com or at The Pat Summitt Foundation Store at www.patsummitt.org.
During the week, various efforts have been made to bring awareness and recognition to the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, a fund of the East Tennessee Foundation, and its fight against Alzheimer's disease.
Leaders of The Pat Summitt Foundation held a press conference at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville on Tuesday and expressed their appreciation to the SEC and all its member institutions for their support of the organization's mission.
"I am honored and humbled that the Southeastern Conference schools continue to support the work of the Pat Summitt Foundation's fight against Alzheimer's. The `We Back Pat' Week not only brings public attention to our cause, but it also helps raise funds that will be awarded by our foundation in the form of grants to organizations who battle this disease every day," said co-founder Pat Summitt, the NCAA's all-time winningest basketball coach at 1,098-208 during her 38 seasons as head coach at Tennessee.
"I want to thank the SEC and its member institutions who have agreed to participate. It means so much to Tyler and me that you joined us in our efforts. Together We Will Win."
At every SEC home women's basketball game this week - 17 games in 14 cities - a variety of efforts including promotional public address announcements and video endorsements will help to increase awareness of the foundation and its mission. Players also will be showing their support by wearing "We Back Pat" t-shirts during warm-ups before games.
Advisory Board Chairman Jim Haslam noted that the information shared at the games also will highlight ways that people can help. In addition to offering the sale of "We Back Pat" t-shirts, wristbands and other items at www.patsummitt.org, the foundation has added a new feature this year. Those who want to support the cause can now text the word "COACH" to the number 50555 to give $10 to back Pat and the foundation.
At the Lady Vols' game against Alabama on Sunday, several businesses also are planning to show their support of the foundation with check presentations to Summitt during the breaks. Representatives of Sam's Club stores in East Tennessee will present a $20,000 grant and the Knoxville News Sentinel will present the proceeds from the sale of a 2011 commemorative edition they published on Pat and her career. The SEC women's basketball officials also are expected to make a presentation to show their support.
On Tuesday, local portrait artist Carl Hess unveiled his recently-completed oil painting depicting scenes from Pat's eight national championship titles & presented it to Pat as a gift. Hess painted the historical portrait in Pat's honor and he presented the foundation with the offer to issue 100 exclusive signed 22" x 28" prints of the incredible portrait as part of a fundraising effort he launched this week to benefit The Pat Summitt Foundation. The prints will be available for sale at Sunday's game in the concourse of Thompson-Boling Arena.
The prints will be signed by Pat Summitt and the artist as well as framed and hand-delivered to the purchaser by the artist. Hess will donate one-half of the sale price for each of the 100 prints to benefit the foundation. For more information, visit his website at www.chessartworld.com.
Assistant coach Kyra Elzy has recently added another initiative to aid the cause. The former Lady Vol player and current staff member issued an "SEC Win Challenge" via Twitter, joining her husband Dexter in pledging $50 per SEC regular-season win by Tennessee this season to the Pat Summitt Foundation. Several colleagues and fans around the nation have joined in by making their own pledges in what appears to be a fast-growing campaign. Reach out to @CoachLZ on Twitter and use the hash tag #SECWinChallenge!, or simply click on the "Kyra Elzy's SEC Win Challenge" button at www.patsummitt.org to make a pledge.