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Survival instinct

Sullivan West senior Sawyer Erlwein looks to drive against Tri-Valley senior Cody Exner in the 5th Annual Sullivan County Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic. The Bulldogs’ 68-53 win also served as the championship game for the Walton Tournament. Erlwein was named to the All-Tournament team with teammate Matt Cardona who was hailed as MVP. T-V’s Shatik Smith and Alex Brown were selected to the All-Tourney team as well.
Photos by Nick Piatek,

By Richard Ross
February 20, 2013

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — There resides in us a powerful life force which, when challenged, will fight back with unfathomable determination to survive. For the will to go on, even in the face of unspeakable adversity, is our most assertive instinct. That said, those battles waged, even with the most exemplary valor, are ultimately defeated by our mortality. Life, at least in this plane of existence, is of limited duration. We plan, we hope, we dream of a long and fulfilled lifespan, but there are forces that can efface such longings and none of them is more lethal than cancer.

Call it the scourge of our time, but it leaves few lives untouched. The battles to find a cure or, better yet, prevention are ongoing. And to that end, many have lent their energy and resources to hasten the coming of that wondrous day when we can regard cancer like polio, diphtheria, smallpox and other once dreaded diseases, as yet another triumphant victory in our battle for survival.

The world of sports has been strongly impacted by this disease, which has claimed some its most storied warriors. Marshaling legions of fans who share a common love of basketball along with a longing to end the reign of cancer, fundraising efforts such as Coaches Versus Cancer have raised millions of dollars for research and treatment.

Locally, that movement is now in its fifth year, celebrated most recently by the Fifth Annual Sullivan County BCANY Coaches Versus Cancer Classic Basketball Tournament staged this year at Monticello High School on February 16 and at Sullivan County Community College on February 17. Detailed stories about the event’s inception and its history, dubbed “Survivor’s Manifesto,” can be found at in archives from past years.