Cheryl Rose is keeping a promise.
Cheryl, the wife of BYU men’s basketball coach Dave Rose, has four sisters, all of whom have had cancer and one who died from the disease six years ago. As her sister struggled through chemo before passing away, she asked Cheryl to be her voice and “please continue to fight this disease.”
“I think about her every day that we do this,” said Cheryl, who now wears a necklace in that sister’s honor. “I feel an urgency that I can’t explain. I feel like we need to do something now.”
This year, perhaps more than ever before, the Roses are making good on Cheryl’s promise.
Dave Rose has progressed to the fourth and final round in the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge, a competition sponsored by ESPN and Infiniti, a division of Nissan. The challenge, now in its eighth year, invites 48 men’s college basketball coaches each year to choose a charity and earn donation funds by getting the most online votes. Each coach receives $1,000 towards their charity just for participating and additional funds as they progress through each round, but only the grand prize winner receives $100,000 towards their charity. This is the second year that Dave Rose, a cancer survivor himself, has picked the BYU Simmons Center for Cancer Research as his charity.
Jim Welsh, who works with LDS Philanthropies and the Simmons Center, said through moving into the fourth round and other competition bonuses, Dave Rose raised a total of $19,500.
“Even if Coach Rose doesn’t win, that’s how much we’ll at least get from the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge,” Welsh said. In addition, the Daily Universe previously reported that BYU basketball alumnus and Tesani CEO Travis Hansen has agreed to match $15,000 of that $19,500 donation.
This is also the second time that the Roses, who are now in their sixth year participating in the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge, have made the top four. Cheryl Rose said the first time they made the top four several years ago, they couldn’t compete with Ohio State’s massive alumni numbers. This year’s competitors are Archie Miller from Indiana University, Matt Painter from Purdue University and Steve Prohm from Iowa State University.
“It brings me to tears almost every time to think that we’re so close to doing this,” Cheryl Rose said. “I’m asking you to be the voice for someone that you know and love that’s suffering from this disease or has suffered.”
Committed to a Cure
Welsh said the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge money is going towards supporting the Simmons Center fellowships, which is the primary purpose of all donated funds. These fellowships allow anywhere from 20 to 25 students to conduct mentored cancer research full time during spring and summer terms. While some students do their research at BYU, they have also studied in Germany and at Harvard University. This year, several students will conduct research at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.
According to its website, the Simmons Center was started in 1977 as a joint venture between the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and the College of Biology and Agriculture. The fellowship program was initiated in 1997 and has since funded more than 200 students’ full-time cancer research, resulting in over 140 research publications.
Welsh said the Simmons Center is less a brick-and-mortar organization and more of a collaboration between four main colleges: the College of Life Science, the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, the College of Engineering and the College of Nursing. According to its website, the primary goal is involving students in cancer research; they also strive to give students the vision that BYU could contribute significantly to the discovery of a cure for cancer.
Welsh said he invited the Roses on a tour of the Simmons Center after hearing Dave Rose talk about his cancer, and they left the tour wanting to support the cancer center. The Roses started by raising community awareness of the Simmons Center, as it’s often overshadowed by the Rex Lee Run for a Cure. Then last year, Welsh said Dave Rose surprised him by informing him he had picked the Simmons Center as his charity in the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge.
“It’s really helped us with our branding and letting people know in the community and across the world that BYU does have a thriving cancer center that we do foundational research in,” Welsh said.
Cheryl Rose said she’s grateful for the research done 30 years ago that allows her husband to be alive today and that today’s research is key for future cancer survivors. She also said this charity project is different from others she’s participated in because everything stays at BYU.
“It stays here on campus with our students that are so committed to this, that have made it their life goal to become experts in this field,” she said. “People are working so hard with the money that we’re going to give them, the money that’s going to be raised to help fund them.”
Another way to support the Simmons Center, Welsh said, is by donating directly through its website, which people can do in the name of a loved one who has died from or currently has cancer. People who are thinking about donating can also schedule a tour of the Simmons Center, where they’ll visit several labs, talk to the director and meet the fellows.
To earn the $100,000 grand prize, Dave Rose must receive the most votes before March 10. Fans can vote for him up to three times a day:
- through the Infiniti website (no log-in required).
- on Twitter, using hashtags #Timeout2Vote and #CoachDaveRose. Retweets meeting the same criteria will count.
- on Instagram by posting a picture of their best time out hands with the hashtags #Timeout2Vote and #CoachDaveRose.
Hageman also said the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge winner, along with a representative of the chosen charity, is typically invited to Infiniti headquarters to receive the check.
“Infiniti ultimately provides the donation to the charity,” Hageman said. “They’re putting upwards of a couple hundred thousand dollars across the board to all the folks involved … so really it’s just thanks to them and (the National Association of Basketball Coaches) for really making this happen at the end of the day and providing the funds.”
Cheryl Rose hopes not only that everyone will vote for Dave every day, but that each voter will commit 10 people to voting and that those 10 people will each commit 10 people to voting.
“If they’ve had anyone they love suffer from this disease, take 10 seconds out of your day and do this,” she said. “We’re asking BYU fans and those who support Dave Rose to take 10 seconds out of your day and make a difference.”
They’re also spreading word of the competition by working with influencers in the BYU community, such as BYU Sports Nation and BYU TV, as well as within the larger Mormon community, such as former professional baseball player Jeremy Guthrie.
Welsh said BYU fans should vote for Dave Rose not only because “we all bleed blue,” but because this is a unique opportunity to support BYU’s cancer research.
“(Dave Rose) said… ‘Look, if there’s going to be a cure for cancer, why can’t it be from BYU?'” Welsh recalled. “I really believe we have the ability to prepare the next generation among colleges and cancer researchers that will find the cure for cancer.”
Cheryl Rose said everyone coming together for this cause can make a difference.
“I just hope that people feel the need to take action,” she said. “All they have to do is pick up their phone and push a couple of buttons. If you can accomplish that, you can change the world.”
Listen to highlights from Cheryl’s interview here: