Since 2008, the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute has been the grateful recipient of a portion of the proceeds from the Annual Nancy McCormick Memorial Volleyball Tournament. This local fundraiser is hosted each year during Memorial Day Weekend by a group of family and friends of the late Nancy McCormick, a teacher, loving wife, and mother of five who lost her life to colon cancer. Over the past six years, the group has donated an amazing total of approximately $23,000 to support Cancer Institute programming! Recently, Cancer Institute staff sat down with some of the members of the planning committee to talk about their efforts.
The idea to hold a volleyball tournament in Nancy’s memory originated from Margy and Frank Rainey, who were Nancy’s neighbors and friends.
“Our families played volleyball together for years, and it was always a lot of fun,” said Margy.
Ironically, when asked to talk a bit about Nancy herself, the first comment was in regards to her volleyball skills.
“She was not really any good at volleyball,” said Erin Kreis, one of Nancy’s 13 siblings.
“She knew she was bad, but she didn’t want anyone else to know,” agreed Shamus McCormick, Nancy’s son.
As everyone laughed about this memory, the group also agreed that Nancy had a great sense of humor and loved having fun. These are traits that underscore the nature of the tournament, making it more about having a good time than serious competition. “It’s volleyball the way my Mom played it, just for fun,” said Shamus.
“We have prizes for things like the best-dressed team and team name,” added Adam McCormick, another one of Nancy’s sons.
Perhaps the portion of Nancy’s personality that has had the most effect on her loved ones was her penchant to be involved in their lives and the community.
“She was very active on the parent-teacher associations, and she was so involved in the community that it was important to us to make a difference in the area,” said Adam.
This belief in the importance of contributing to the community is what led the group to choose the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute as one of the recipients of the tournament proceeds.
“The fact that the money will stay in the area was the big thing,” said Jan Needham, Nancy’s sister.
When asked about what the long-term goal of their group was, Adam said, “If what we do prevents one person from going through what she and we went through, then that is a win for us.”
It is likely that the group has already achieved this admirable goal. Their grassroots efforts have helped to provide cancer screenings for the under/uninsured through the Cancer Institute Community-Based Patient Navigation Program. Without this screening program, it is likely that some of these patients would have waited to see a doctor until symptoms progressed, possibly resulting in a diagnosis that would be harder to treat and have a worse prognosis.
At a time when public funding for nonprofits has dwindled, support from community groups like the family and friends of Nancy McCormick is especially crucial. These groups of people, taking the initiative to plan and execute community level fundraisers, allow the Cancer Institute to continue to offer programs throughout the region. At the same time, these events can serve as a fun and very meaningful experience.
“Each year people come back to play, and I feel that it keeps the idea of my mother alive to see that people want to be involved in this,” said Adam.
If you are part of a group looking for a way to honor a loved one or simply to benefit the community, consider contacting the Cancer Institute. Staff is always happy to provide ideas and operational support. Since the Cancer Institute invests 100% of its resources locally, you can be sure that the funds you raise will stay right here, in Northeastern Pennsylvania.