The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

Moravian’s 16-Year Reign: Dominating Play4Kay Against Cancer

Photo courtesy of Amy Endler.
Photo courtesy of Amy Endler.

The Moravian women’s basketball team was recently named the NCAA Division III leader in the fundraising effort of Play4Kay, raising $17,030 this year alone. This is their 16th consecutive year participating in the Kay Yow Cancer Fund since its inception in 2007 and they have led the division every year. Moravian is the only team to ever do this.

Play4Kay was created for former North Carolina State University’s head women’s basketball coach, Kay Yow, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987. The cancer fund was officially established on December 3, 2007, in hopes of raising money for all women’s cancers. Shortly after its creation, Yow passed away in 2009 from cancer, succumbing to the fight. 

Play4Kay’s primary contributors are women’s basketball teams across the country who raise awareness of the fund which is committed to women’s cancer research.

Coach Mary Beth Spirk, athletic director and head coach of the women’s basketball team here at Moravian, has fallen in love with the organization and everything it stands for. 

“It brings people together over something that you wouldn’t normally talk about,” she said.

Photo Courtesy of Amy Endler.

The team’s fundraising efforts consist of having a “Pink Out Game” where they wear pink uniforms donated by alumni. Several girls on the team also travel around Bethlehem, in hopes that local businesses will support the cause.

Sam Osorio ‘24, says they also do 50/50s and raffles at games to further support the fund and has even seen representatives of the cancer fund attend games. 

“We’ve had representatives from the Kay Kow Cancer Fund attend our event including the CEO, Janny Palmateer,” she said.  

Although Moravian has been the winner of the DIII title every year, there are winners for other divisions and levels as well including NCAA Division I BCS, NCAA Division I Non-BCS NCAA Division II, NAIA, Junior Colleges, and national K-12 schools. 

Recently, on April 5, Coach Spirk traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, where the Wow4Yow Appreciation event honored teams across the country at the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s nation convention at the Women’s Basketball Final Four. The team’s video, kicking off their week of fundraising in February, started the night of recognition and Coach Spirk felt honored.

“We were all talking and then the video started and I’m like wait, that’s us!” she said. 

Coach Spirk believes this fundraising foundation is extremely important for the team to participate in. She makes it a point to teach her players to give back to the community. 

“You want to be good at making a basket and defending and all that, but ultimately I think helping them realize it’s okay to give back is the main goal,” she said.

The money goes to more than just the fund, such as furthering a free mammogram bus for those who can’t afford the health care they need. 

Over their entire reign of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, Moravian’s women’s basketball team has donated a total of $233,118. The most they have raised in a single year is $21,662 in 2017 and they hope that number continues to grow. 

For more information on the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, or to donate, visit

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