Governor, lawmakers hit the basketball court for cancer research

Governor, lawmakers hit the basketball court for cancer research
The governor, lobbyists, legislators and their assistants left Capitol Square Thursday and faced off on the basketball court for a cancer research fundraiser. The game raised nearly $32,000 for the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center. (Source: Capital News Service)

By Emma Gauthier

Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. --The governor, lobbyists, legislators and their assistants left Capitol Square Thursday to face off on the basketball court for a cancer research fundraiser.

The game raised nearly $32,000 for the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center.

The Massey Capitol Square Classic pitted the governor’s office against lobbyists for one game and the House against the Senate in another match. The event, held at VCU’s Siegel Center, is in its 12th year.

“We’re finding new cures everyday for cancer and I just thank you all for that,” Gov. Ralph Northam said. “We’re all here to have a good time, and I hope everybody is safe and has a lot of fun, so let’s get ready to play ball.”

Northam broke out his red basketball shorts Thursday to play amongst other representatives in his office after his absence at last year’s event, which raised over $32,000 for research. The governor’s office held a strong lead throughout the first game and won 42-25.

“We are committed to trying to find cures for diseases that we do not have today,” VCU President Michael Rao said. “It takes a lot of work and tremendous research to help us get to the place where we need to be.”

The House and Senate teams consisted mainly of legislative assistants, though there was a rule that each team must have two legislators on the court at all times.

The stadium was filled primarily with House and Senate pages, teenagers involved in a program to assist in the legislative process during the General Assembly session.

During halftime, the pages battled each other in a “spirit contest” to see who could cheer the loudest. Rodney the Ram, VCU’s mascot, awarded the Senate pages the spirit trophy.

While the Senate appeared to have the rowdiest fans, that didn’t stop the House from stealing the game. Tension in the stadium rose when the Senate held a two point lead. With less than a second on the clock, the House landed a three-point shot, winning the game 26-25.

The House pages immediately flooded the court to celebrate with their team. House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, stood at the center holding the trophy, chanting, “this is our house.”

“I want to thank the folks in the House and Senate because I know that like everything, the only way to beat cancer is as a team,” said Dr. Robert Winn, who was recently named director of the Massey Cancer Center.

Thursday’s games followed a busy day at the Capitol as each chamber passed bills including the treatment of transgender students in public schools, the requirement of free menstrual products in public school bathrooms and a minimum wage increase. These bills now head to Northam for approval.

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.