Lady Vol duo on road for cure again
By: By Beth Rucker, Associated Press Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Their do-rags are pink. Their motorcycles are painted Tennessee orange.
Lady Volunteers assistant coach Holly Warlick and former assistant turned UCLA head coach Nikki Caldwell are hittin’ the road.
Warlick and Caldwell, who both played as Lady Vols and have spent a combined 27 seasons at coach Pat Summitt’s side embarked Sunday on their second weeklong “Cruisin’ for a Cause” ride to raise money for breast cancer programs.
The pair rode cross-country last year from Knoxville to Berkeley, Calif., raising more than $50,000 along the way. That money went to various causes, including Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Wellness Community of East Tennessee.
They held events at every stop where they joined fans and breast cancer survivors to celebrate.
“The best stories are really when the survivors would come out and give their testimony. They’d talk about their fight,” Caldwell said. “That’s why we’ll always be committed to this. It’s really put everything in perspective.”
Warlick wanted to combine the charity work she and Caldwell often did with their love of riding — Caldwell has ridden for 14 years while Warlick began seven years ago and even received a Harley-Davidson as a gift when she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Both wanted to raise awareness for breast cancer. Warlick’s grandmother had the disease and a friend of Caldwell’s passed away from complications in 2001.
Some of the proceeds of the 2007 trip went to the brand-new Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund in honor of the North Carolina State coach, a breast cancer survivor.
Yow was unavailable for comment because of a death in the family but said previously that she started the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund to show that women’s basketball coaches were stepping forward to help fight the disease.
“Kay’s been a huge icon in women’s basketball,” Warlick said. “We thought that was a kind of no-brainer to donate to her.”
Their 2,700-mile trip last year was in September — right in the middle of recruiting time — and Summitt worried a bit about the safety of two-thirds of her assistant coaching staff.
“She was a little skeptical at first, but when she saw the response and the amount of money we raised, she was very supportive,” Warlick said.
They had a little fun with each other too: Caldwell recalled one part of the ride when she became a sandwich between Warlick’s bike and an tractor-trailer truck.
“This year I’m not riding next her. I refuse to,” Caldwell said.
This year’s tour will take the pair 2,200 miles from Knoxville to Key West, Fla., and back traveling through Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
They expect to ride a week and have a fundraising goal of $100,000.
Events are planned in Miami, Naples and Tampa, Fla., where they’ll celebrate with more fans and survivors.
Their entourage includes seven bikes, a motorhome and a chase car.
They plan to carry on Cruisin’ for a Cause for years to come, even with Caldwell now a UCLA Bruin. Warlick said she hoped that because their charity is a bit more organized they could bring more riders along with them in the future.
She said they’ve even offered to bring Summitt along.
“We were trying to find a side car for her to go,” she said. “(Summitt) said she’d follow the dot on the computer as we traveled along.”
On the Net:
Cruisin’ for a Cause: http://www.volunteerscruisin.com/