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PIKE hosts run for cancer

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Courtesy of Adam Geyer
Former UA men's basketball head coach Lute Olson, second from right, wife Kelly Pugnea and former Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity philanthropy chairman Patrick Weber, far right, pose for a photo with Wilbur Wildcat at last year's Lute Olson Cancer Center Run. Olson started the event in honor of his wife who passed away from cancer.

UA legend Lute Olson will host the annual Lute Olson Cancer Center Run with Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity on Sunday in memory of Olson’s late wife, Bobbi Olson.

Their ultimate goal is to raise at least $25,000 to donate entirely to the UA Cancer Center for research in Bobbi Olson’s name; Bobbi Olson died from ovarian cancer in 2001.  

Lute Olson became an honorary brother of Pi Kappa Alpha in 2009 when the fraternity chose to organize the run each year after it was at risk of being cancelled for good, according to Carter Hoffman, Pi Kappa Alpha philanthropy chair and a mechanical engineering sophomore.

“This event is close to my heart and my kids’ [hearts],” Lute Olson said.  “At a time when it looked like the cancer event was going to go by the wayside, PIKE stepped up.”

The event includes an 8K run beginning at 9:30 a.m. at University Boulevard and Cherry Avenue on the UA Mall and leading through a scenic route of the UA campus, followed by a 3K fun run beginning at 11:30 a.m. 

Aside from fundraising, Pi Kappa Alpha wishes to create a movement in the Tucson community supporting cancer research while getting it involved in Lute Olson’s philanthropy, Hoffman said. 

“Olson has given so much to the university,” Hoffman said. “It’s a way for Tucson to give back to him and come together for a common cause.”

So far, Pi Kappa Alpha has raised about $18,000, and it donated $22,000 in Bobbi Olson’s name at last year’s event. 

Lute Olson said that if it weren’t for the fraternity, he does not believe the event would still be around. 

The fraternity takes care of all the overhead costs of the event and is sponsored in part by Desert Diamond Casino, Serengetee, and Cutter Aviation. 

Adam Geyer, Pi Kappa Alpha president and a junior studying neuroscience and cognitive science, said that while a lot of other Greek Life philanthropy is focused on sorority participation, the run is a great way to get the community involved. 

“We want to be able to support Lute as our brother and keep him involved in the community,” Geyer said. 

In previous years, the event was called CATWalk and was formerly run by Fraternity and Sorority Programs before going silent, Hoffman said. 

This cause is also particularly important because Pi Kappa Alpha’s current chapter advisor is a cancer survivor, Geyer said.

Lute Olson said he hopes to keep the event alive in the future. 

“Bobbi Olson’s last wish was hopefully we’d be able to rid this country of this horrible disease,” Olson said. “We do it for her.”

The run is open to the entire Tucson community with registration availale at www.active.com for $17. Out of the $17, $10 goes directly to the cause. Donations can also be made at www.crowdrise.com. 

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