USD, KVHT Radio team up in fundraising effort
By David Lias
The basketballs started bouncing in the DakotaDome at tip-off that started the Feb. 14 men’s game between South Dakota and Oakland.
Twenty-four hours later, when a non-stop “Dribble-A-Thon” hosted by USD and Classic Hits 106.3 (KVHT), the Coyote Radio Network, had ended, all expectations had not only been realized, they had also been surpassed.
With an initial goal of raising $1,000 in mind, local organizers discovered how truly generous the Vermillion and USD communities can be. Last week’s activities raised $5,000 in cash and pledges.
The event was held to benefit the family of Conrad Adam. Conrad, a 6-5 junior at T.F. Riggs High School in Pierre, is fighting osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He underwent surgery in October that required the amputation of his left leg above the knee.
Because basketball has been an important part of Conrad’s life and his family has strong ties to the University of South Dakota – his sister, Katherine, is a freshman at USD and his parents, Karl and Joan Adam of Pierre, are USD graduates – Coyote Athletics and USD President James W. Abbott set out to raise money to help pay for expenses related to Adam’s battle with osteosarcoma.
“Since basketball has played a significant role in Conrad’s life, we wanted to do something with Coyote men’s basketball and the USD community to show our support for Conrad, who has been very courageous in this fight,” Abbott said.
USD and Classic Hits 106.3 KVHT partnered with several other activities besides the “Dribble-A-Thon.” They offered “Coyotes and Conrad” bracelets for sale for $5 each, and wound up selling out of the 500 that had been ordered.
The university also hosted “Conrad Adam Night” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 during the Coyotes men’s basketball game vs. Fort Wayne at the DakotaDome.
During half time of that game, Abbott, Head Football Coach Joe Glenn, Charlie Coyote and Athletic Director David Herbster took turns gathering as much money as they could while inside the KVHT “Cash Cube.”
Coyote Athletics also dedicated $2 per ticket for new ticket sales for the game on Feb. 16 to Conrad’s fund.
The “Coyotes & Conrad” bracelets, available on-line at GoYotes.com, features Conrad’s special inspirational message “No One Fights Alone.”
Those words kept KVHT’s Randy Hammer, who had been awake for nearly 24 hours straight, going strong Friday afternoon, Feb. 15, as he tended to matters in the radio station’s recently-opened location at 16 E. Main Street in downtown Vermillion.
“Coyotes never fight alone,” he said. “We’ve had people give $500, $100, $50 … right down to $1. We’ve had such great response – more than we could ever ask for, because our original goal was $1,000.”
The fundraising effort, he said, had nearly raised $1,500 by the time USD’s Feb. 14 game had ended. Friday afternoon, a bar graph that Hammer had doodled on a whiteboard in KVHT’s Vermillion office showed the total, at the time, had exceeded $3,500.
There was a flurry of activity going on inside the radio station’s downtown digs, all accented by the sounds of basketballs being bounced off the carpeted floors.
Charlie Coyote and USD cheerleaders were there, greeting visitors to the Vermillion location during station breaks. Members of the Vermillion Tanager boys’ basketball team worked in shifts that afternoon, making sure basketballs kept bouncing until 7 p.m. Friday night – a full 24 hours.
Earlier that day, VHS coaches and members of the Tanager girls’ basketball team had been at the station, dribbling basketballs.
“We’ve had USD men and women basketball players bouncing, and we’ve had a lot of folks from the university helping out,” Hammer said. “We started dribbling basketballs at the beginning of the (Feb. 14) game, and we left the Dome at halftime to get down here to prepare for our broadcast.”
He and another KVHT staffer discovered that a basketball and cold weather don’t mix. A bit over a mile separates the DakotaDome and downtown Vermillion; during that winter night’s journey, while dribbling their way to the station, they pressed on through the cold, even though the basketball began losing its bounce.
“That was a cold bouncing of the basketball,” Hammer said, “and the ball itself even became flat on us.”
They began non-stop live radio broadcasts, accented by continuous streaming video on the station’s web page, beginning the moment they arrived at KVHT’s Vermillion location.
“It’s amazing how you think bouncing a basketball is easy, but on carpet, it’s not so easy, and it becomes a heavy ball after awhile. Your forearms begin to hurt,” he said.
Hammer and fellow KVHT staffer John Thayer and Simon Fuller worked and dribbled in shifts all through the night, making sure the ball kept bouncing until additional people arrived at the station Friday morning to help with that task.
By Friday afternoon, Hammer said he and his co-workers were “catching their fourth wind.
“Traveling between here and Yankton, doing all the things that we have to do between our two studios and our two communities has been exhilarating,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun, and to do it for a young man who is a fighter and resilient like a Coyote – that makes it all worthwhile.”
Learn more about Conrad’s fight against cancer at https://www.facebook.com/ConradsClan?fref=ts and at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/Conradadam.