News, Play4Kay Story

The Kay Yow Cancer Fund Announces 2023 Play4Kay National Winners

Raleigh, NC (March 31, 2023) – The Kay Yow Cancer Fund announces its 2023 Play4Kay National award winners today. Play4Kay is the Fund’s largest fundraising initiative with events hosted in all 50 states. Through the nationwide support of participating Play4Kay teams, coaches, fans, officials, and communities, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund continues to make a significant impact and has awarded $8.18M in the fight against all cancers affecting women to date.

The Fund will honor the following schools and communities for raising the most money in their respective divisions at the Wow4Yow celebration event in Dallas, Texas at the Women’s Basketball Final Four. On stage joining the Kay Yow Cancer Fund in presenting the awards will be WNBA Dallas Wings star Arike Ogunbowale.  

Division I (BCS): Illinois State University (Bloomington-Normal, IL) 

Division I (Non-BCS):  Illinois State University (Bloomington-Normal, IL) 

For only the second time in the history of Play4Kay awards, and for the second year in a row, Illinois State has won both the DI BCS and Non-BCS awards. The community has gone above and beyond in its commitment to fighting all cancers affecting women. Hosting a Play4Kay game is a huge source of pride for ISU and has led them to win the Non-BCS award for 8 consecutive years, proving that great things can be accomplished when a community unites for a common cause.

“Having played for Coach Yow and been a part of her staff in the final years of her life, I am so inspired by our community here at Illinois State and by all of the winners. As Play4Kay becomes bigger each year, I know we are all a part of carrying out Coach Yow’s vision.” — Kristen Gillespie, Illinois State University Head Coach.

Division II: Anderson University (Anderson, SC) 

Anderson University continues to impact lives through the Play4Kay South Atlantic Conference initiative, winning the National Division II award four of the last five years.

“When it comes to supporting the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, it’s a no-brainer for our University and our Community to step up. Across our campus, we understand that this is an ongoing battle that we want to help fight against. The city of Anderson and its business owners have stepped right in to support us in that charge. We are grateful for their support and we have hope that one day we will defeat this awful disease.” — Jonathon Barbaree, Anderson University, Head Coach

Division III: Moravian University (Bethlehem, PA) 

Leading the way for Division III colleges and universities nationally, Moravian University has supported Play4Kay since its inception, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in the fight against cancer. This year marks 15 consecutive years as the National Division III winner. 

“I was excited to learn the news that we continued our streak of leading Division III in fundraising efforts in support of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. For the past 15 years, the entire Moravian community which includes faculty, staff, students, alums, and families has rallied around our team’s annual Play4Kay game and week. While we certainly prepare all season to compete against our opponents on the court, we also are preparing for the special “Pink” week. Each year our players and coaches embrace that week and this year was no different. 

We have also had continued support from Sara Steinman, former player and coach at Moravian, and the Springfield Athletic Association in New Jersey in organizing a clinic there.

In addition, Jenn Sullivan, Sr. Director of Play4Kay, joined us for the game and reception afterward. We are fortunate to have such great support from the Kay Yow organization. Thank you for the recognition and our hope is that we play a small role in helping to find a cure for this terrible disease.” — Mary Beth Spirk, Head Women’s Basketball Coach and Athletic Director.

NAIA: Faulkner University (Montgomery, AL)

Faulkner University wins their 11th overall Play4Kay National NAIA award signifying their commitment to serving women battling cancer. A united community remains at the forefront of their unwavering efforts.

“We are excited to be annual partners with the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Our campus community does such a great job each year on our Play4Kay night in honoring so many brave survivors and supporting this wonderful organization. We are especially grateful to our Student Government for making a large donation and making it a memorable event this year!” — Reed Sutton, Head Women’s Basketball Coach

Junior College/Community College: Dawson Community College (Glendive, MT)

Congratulations to Dawson Community College for rallying their community in the fight against all cancers affecting women. This marks the 5th consecutive year as the national winner.

“I am so thrilled that Dawson CC has been once again recognized for being a part of such a huge benefit of the Play4Kay foundation. The community and campus of Dawson have always been avid supporters, and I hope that will continue for as long as possible.” – Trace Gentry, Dawson Community College Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach

Nationwide K-12: The Westminster Schools (Atlanta, GA) 

Leah Black-Holmes was inspired to launch Play4Kay at Westminster after watching mother’s battle with cancer. The result has been a united community fighting for something far bigger than themselves. Her efforts highlight the power of the next generation in the fight against cancer.

“Through Play4Kay I have been able to combine my passion for helping those with cancer and my love for basketball and my school community. I am thankful for the support of my coaches, teammates, and the greater Westminster community. In just two years, we have raised more than $38,000 and honored many incredible women cancer survivors and thrivers. Play4Kay has become an inspiring and cherished tradition at Westminster.” – Leah Black-Holmes, student

NC Based K-12: Broughton High School (Raleigh, NC) 

A teacher and her students galvanize the local community through an experiential learning project culminating in Play4Kay. For the last six years, this project continues to be a source of pride for the students as they learn real-world skills and impact cancer survivors and thrivers in their community.

“Broughton’s Play4Kay event started as an honors class project for our Sport & Event Marketing II class to allow students to gain practical marketing experience and raise money for a great cause in the process. It has been exciting to see this student-driven project evolve over the past 6 years. Each new group of SEM students plans all aspects of the event in an attempt to not only grow our annual event but also raise more money than the SEM class the year before. We are grateful for the incredible support we receive from our local community. During our 6 year involvement, we are proud that we have been able to donate over $50,000 to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. They are such an integral part of our own local community yet benefit people everywhere. Broughton High School is proud to be a small part in helping make a difference in the fight against all cancers affecting women.” — Miss Patterson, Broughton HS Teacher


Thanks to the work of the award winners above we are shifting the momentum from cancer awareness into action through the funding of life-saving cancer research and programs that provide access to quality cancer healthcare for underserved women.


“Congratulations to the 2023 Play4Kay winners! Coach Yow would be incredibly proud to see what this national grassroots movement has become and we are so thankful for all the teams who have participated and continue to support the Fund through this initiative,” said Jenny Palmateer, CEO of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. “Coach Yow believed in the power of sports as a unifying force for good and as evidence of her vision, $8.18M has been awarded on behalf of the women’s basketball community in the fight against cancer. Together we are impacting lives.” 


About the Kay Yow Cancer Fund®

The Kay Yow Cancer Fund was officially founded on December 3, 2007, from the vision of the organization’s namesake, Kay Yow, former NC State University head women’s basketball coach. Coach Yow was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 before succumbing to the disease on January 24, 2009. The Kay Yow Cancer Fund is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to raising money for life-saving cancer research, and underserved programs that provide access to quality cancer healthcare, and unite people in the fight against all cancers affecting women.  To date, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund has awarded $8.18 million in the fight against ALL cancers affecting women.  For more information on the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, or to donate, please visit

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