It started as a single pledge on social media and now it’s catching on throughout the Southeastern Conference.
Former Tennessee standout and current Kentucky assistant coach Kyra Elzy wanted to find a way to help honor her late grandmother and her former Lady Vols head coach, so she vowed five seasons ago to donate $100 per league win.
When Elzy moved from Tennessee back to UK, she brought her “SEC Win Challenge” with her hoping to continue to honor Pat Summitt even from Lexington.
Cats Coach Matthew Mitchell, a former graduate assistant under Summitt, vowed to donate $2,000 for each Kentucky conference win this season as well to the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, Elzy said on Twitter in January.
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Online donors, including fans and coaches from six other SEC schools, helped Elzy raise $40,000 this season, which she formally presented to The Pat Summitt Foundation on Monday at Memorial Coliseum. In the past five years, Elzy’s SEC Win Challenge has raised $115,000.
“It’s a cause that affects a lot of people,” Elzy said during the check presentation. “We’re very passionate about it and want to help find a cure.”
Elzy has lost both her grandmother, Mary Elzy, and Summitt to Alzheimer’s disease and wants to continue the fight.
Her hope is that other SEC schools — and maybe even other programs and coaches around the country — will join in making a yearly pledge to honor Summitt.
“We started it on social media just asking fans to pledge,” Elzy said. “It’s grown every year and gotten bigger and bigger.”
Nearly every person is touched by Alzheimer’s disease in one way or another, Mitchell said. He’d love to see the SEC Win Challenge continue to grow.
“I hope we can continue to build on it,” Mitchell said. “I give Kyra so much credit for answering the call and getting all this organized. We were thrilled to be involved in it this season.”