Record turnout for 'Fast Break' fundraiser

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina coach Roy Williams said Friday he had a plethora of unusual thoughts during his recent cancer scare. But he was sure of three things: “I wanted to continue seeing my grandsons, no question. … I wanted to continue to coach, and I wanted to continue to do things to help fight this disease.”

Friday morning, the Hall-of-Famer continued to do the latter, hosting the eighth annual Fast Break Against Cancer breakfast to raise money for research for the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. A record 415 people bought $100-per-plate tickets to the event at the Smith Center -- up roughly 50 percent from last season. A live and silent auction raised roughly $25,000.

A final tally wasn’t immediately available Friday morning, but the event has raised a total of $1.2 million over the previous seven years.

Williams said Thursday he thought this year's breakfast would hold extra significance for him, considering the recent 24-day span when he had a tumor on one kidney removed and a biopsy on a tumor on his other kidney. Both were non-cancerous.

Williams told the crowd of all the support he received from friends and family. Then Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, a former Tar Heels guard and a two-time cancer survivor, spoke of the need for more funding to fight the vicious disease, and find a cure. Ted Seagroves, a longtime friend to Williams and a pancreatic cancer patient at UNC, talked about his fight, as did his surgeon from the Lineberger Cancer Center, HJ Kim. Williams called Seagroves “a role model to me,” as Williams was going through his surgeries.

During the live auction, replica Williams Hall-of-Fame jerseys went for $3,500 apiece; a golf foursome with UNC athletics director Bubba Cunningham went for $1,250, and a seat on the bench at a UNC game went for $6,000.

All, Williams stressed, for an important cause.

“Cancer itself … has always been an important issue to me, and it’s taken on a new life right now,’’ Williams, who lost both of his parents to cancer, said Thursday. “I want to do as many things as we can possibly do to raise more money, to make more people aware of it.”

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.