SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Larry Carney knows all too well the impact cancer can take on families.
"I've lost my brother, my mother and father to cancer," said Carney.
In addition to losing several close families members to cancer, the Allan Hancock College women's basketball assistant coach is also fighting the disease himself.
"I was diagnosed when I was 50 years old. I'm now going on 73 and I've been fighting it," said Carney. "I was actually clean for about seven years and it came back and I've been battling it ever since."
Through his many years of fighting the disease, Carney has never stopped coaching, which included his time as head coach at Santa Maria High School, and now at Hancock.
"You go on the basketball floor and you work with the girls and you just forget about it," Carney said. "It takes you into a different world, and it's comforting to get a way from it for a while."
Carney's positive attitude and ever-present smile has made him an immensely popular coach during his many years in the community.
It's a big reason why the Hancock athletics department has renamed its annual basketball cancer fundraiser, "Carney's Coaches vs. Cancer."
"The whole idea is to rally the community around not only supporting financially, but supporting emotionally people that have affected by cancer," said athletic director Kim Ensing.
The sixth annual event is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 8 at Joe White Memorial Gymnasium. The Hancock men's team is scheduled to play Moorpark at 5 p.m. The Hancock women's team will also host Moorpark following the men's game at 7 p.m.
All profits from ticket, concession and special tee-shirt sales will go to Mission Hope Cancer Center in Santa Maria.
"We're helping community members of Santa Maria," Ensing said. "We've partnered with them for three years running. This will help our local Santa Maria community fight the fight against cancer."
Carney is proud to be associated with the event. He says he's very honored to have his name attached and is happy money raised will directly assist those battling cancer on the Central Coast.
"You just don't realize how many people out there have cancer until you it experience it," Carney said. "I'm very fortunate. There's a lot of people worse off than I am. It's great to have a program like this to help people and assist in their expenses."
Ensing adds that besides Carney, cancer has touched many around campus. It makes holding the event even more significant.
"We've had several Allan Hancock College staff members that have been affected," said Ensing. "Several athletic staff members have been affected, whether personally or with their family, and so it gives us a chance to provide a family support who are dealing with this on a personal basis."
Carney, who is being treated for spinal cancer, says he has a check-up in about two weeks. He plans to keep on coaching now and well into the future.
"As long as I can, as long as they'll have me," said Carney. "As long as my health will hold out!
For more information on Carney's Coaches vs. Cancer, visit Carney's Coaches vs. Cancer