Lady Vols Holly Warlick rolls into Alcoa to support breast cancer awareness

The Champions for a Cause motorcycle crew, from left, Paula Milsaps, Nancy Dearolf, Kris Duran, Kim Billingsley, Traci Smith, Holly Warlick and Becky Hansmann.

The Champions for a Cause motorcycle crew, from left, Paula Milsaps, Nancy Dearolf, Kris Duran, Kim Billingsley, Traci Smith, Holly Warlick and Becky Hansmann.

Holly Warlick has ridden her motorcycle through snow, sleet and monsoons to raise funds for breast cancer research. She has been prepared for the elements with heated gloves and rain gear, but unseasonably warm temperatures caught the Lady Vols’ associate head basketball coach by surprise, and she rolled into Alcoa on April 9 sunburned but smiling.

“This is the first time we did not get rained on, and I got fried,” Warlick said.

Warlick, the co-founder with former Tennessee Lady Vol Nikki Caldwell of Champions for a Cause, participated in a Thursday-to-Saturday ride April 7-9, from Memphis to Alcoa to raise awareness for breast cancer and meet with survivors along the route.

The mini-ride ended at the Courtyard by Marriott in Alcoa with a gathering of supporters and corporate sponsors, including newly added Wal-mart and Coca-Cola, with the Alcoa Wal-mart store manager, Boyce Smith, and market manager for regional Wal-mart stores, Allyn Hosman, present for the event.

Sharon Hannum, who is with St. Paul AME Zion Church in Maryville, brought three pre-teens with her to meet Warlick and hear her message of empowerment for young girls. Warlick delivered words of encouragement about education, self-reliance and staying positive each day.

The ride also encourages breast health awareness with reminders to get regular checkups. Thousands of dollars has been raised for the University of Tennessee Breast Health Outreach Program, The Kay Yow Cancer Fund, The Wellness Communities of Tennessee and the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women’s Health, Education and Resource Center.

The coaches started Champions for a Cause in 2007 when both were assistant coaches at Tennessee. Caldwell had since departed for UCLA for three seasons and just recently was announced as the head coach at Louisiana State University. That new job in Baton Rouge prevented Caldwell from accompanying Warlick for the quick ride across Tennessee, but the two will join together next month for the annual weeklong ride on their Harleys.

Past trips have taken the basketball coaches from Tennessee to New York and back and cross-country from California. On Wednesday, May 4, the coaches and their caravan of motorcycle riders and supporters rode from the motorcycle paradise of Sturgis, S.D., to Las Vegas.

Information about the group is available at championsforacause.org http://www.championsforacause.org/

“We love to ride motorcycles, but the key is us spreading awareness and getting more sponsorships and people involved,” said Warlick, who rides an orange, white and light blue Lady Vol-themed motorcycle. “It’s all about awareness and finding a cure, and that’s what we’re doing. We love to ride, but we have a single purpose in mind.”

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