In 2007 the University of Tennessee community had learned that their star player, Chris Lofton, had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. Lofton beat the cancer through early diagnosis and treatment and went on to play during the 2007-08 season while battling this disease. With the help and permission from Lofton, Brooks Savage created “OUTLIVE”, a program that attempts to raise awareness and money for cancer research and screenings.
On Saturday, Tennessee hosted #3 Kentucky, a game televised nationally on CBS. It was a perfect opportunity for OUTLIVE to get its message out, selling hundreds of orange t-shirts to create an "Orange Out." The event was a success as well over $100,000 was raised for cancer screenings & awareness.
The creator of OUTLIVE, Brooks Savage, a graduate assistant, started off as a student manager during his freshman year under then coach Buzz Peterson and remains with the team now under Bruce Pearl. Brooks was nice enough last year to talk to CHN about this program and agreed to answer a few questions again this year.
Interview with Brooks Savage, OUTLIVE
CollegeHoops.net: What is the goal of the OUTLIVE program?
Brooks Savage: The main goal of the program is to raise awareness and money towards cancer prevention and early detection screenings. The idea of the screenings is to catch symptoms early. Cancer can be treatable when caught at its earliest stages.
CHN: How far has the program come in its inaugural year? What is the biggest obstacle this time around?
Brooks: Last year OUTLIVE raised more then $93,000 and helped the UT Medical Center provide more then 2,500 free cancer screenings. So far this year we have raised over $130,000. About $223,000 in 13 months.
Last year the story was fresh and new. It’s harder the second time around to figure out ways to appeal to the community and draw attention to it
CHN: Last year’s t-shirts were white and featured a different design. How did you come up with new T-Shirt design this year?
Brooks: We came up with three different t-shirt designs and posted them on the UT website (utsports.com). The fans voted and the most popular design won. The back of the shirt is also different. Last year featured a quote from Chris and this year it has “Together We Make a Difference.” It’s going to take all of us to beat this disease. This year we went with an orange shirt – we want to create an 'orange-out' effect.
CHN: Do you still stay in contact with Chris?
Brooks: Yes, we talk about once a week. He’s healthy and is playing well. He plays in Spain for a team in Madrid called Asefa Estudiantes. His team recently played Ricky Rubio’s team (Editor’s Note: Lofton scored 20 points in 30 minutes in a 79-70 loss to Rubio’s Regal Barcelona team )
CHN: What is an “orange out?” How can people buy a shirt?
Brooks: On Saturday we played host to Kentucky. Tennessee and Kentucky is one of the best rivalries in the country, so we wanted all the fans to wear these shirts to create an “orange out “ effect and also support our fight against cancer. The shirts can be purchased on campus, online, or at the local Walgreens, which has pledged to donate 100% of the proceeds to the UT Medical Center.
CHN: Are there other ideas/events to take OUTLIVE to the next level?
Brooks: We have participated in different events to raise awareness for the program. We hosted a benefit that Florida head coach Billy Donovan attended the night before we played them in Knoxville. He is a first class coach and person and it is great to see the support from other teams. Our team has visited the hospitals to give patients a sense of normalcy. Different sponsors, the local channels and the Volunteer Network are also doing a great job in spreading the word. Coach Pearl and his wife, have been fantastic in promoting it and trying to find new ideas to benefit the program.
Also: Watch Coach Pearl talk about the 2010 OUTLIVE Campaign at a weekly press conference.