This Saturday, Oct. 22, Storm color analyst Adia Barnes is the co-host of the MVP Challenge 5K, a run/walk around Green Lake to raise money for Andrew Moritz in his battle against a rare form of cancer. Moritz is a former state champion at Franklin High School who walked on to the University of Washington’s basketball team and later was part of the Storm’s practice squad, which is where he met Barnes.
Last week, Steve Kelley wrote in the Seattle Times about Moritz’s condition, which turned for the worse earlier this month when doctors determined that chemotherapy could no longer help him. That makes it all the more crucial for Moritz’s friends and family to raise money to explore alternative treatment methods.
Registration for the MVP Challenge 5K, which is co-sponsored by the Adia Barnes Foundation and the Marvin Thomas Memorial Fund, is $30 in advance or $40 at the event. For more details and to register, click here.
By phone from University of Washington, where she’s in her first season as an assistant coach under new women’s head coach Kevin McGuff, Barnes shared more on how she got to know Moritz and what Storm fans can expect if they attend this Saturday.
How did you get involved with Andrew’s cause?
I first met Andrew back in 2002, when he was a practice player for the Storm. He was a great guy, funny; we all loved him. I remember he had the biggest crush on Sue Bird, so that was funny. I still tease him about that today. Daniel Shapiro [formerly the Storm's strength and conditioning coach] and Andrew are best friends, so I’ve kept up and would periodically ask Daniel about Andrew. We all had lunch six months ago and I found out more, what was going on and what a difficult time he was having.
I learned that in America, your insurance can tap out. His insurance tapped out at $2 million. Financially, this is a huge strain on his family. His costs have been a million a year. I never even knew that could happen. I didn’t want to bring it up then, but later on I asked Daniel, ‘Why don’t I try to have a fundraiser for him?’ I have a foundation, I have the resources, so I wanted to try to raise some money to help him.
This was five or six months ago, and his situation has gotten a lot worse during this time. Before, it was really just to offset costs because it’s so expensive with traveling. Now, chemo is no longer an option. It’s given me even more incentive to raise money because he needs this to stay alive. He needs this amount for his last shot to go to an alternative hospital. The money raised in this event will send him to either Canada or Mexico for alternative medicine that isn’t approved by the FDA but could work. Miracles happen. He’s ready to fight; he’s not ready to give up. Giving up is not an option for him.
What can Storm fans expect if they show up on Saturday?
They’re going to sign up for the run. It costs $30. You get a T-shirt, your bib and you can either walk or run around Green Lake. It’s beautiful. Andrew will be there, as will the Husky women’s basketball team and NBA players like Shawn Kemp and Jamal Crawford. It’s the best $30 you can ever spend. You’re helping someone possibly save their life. It’s money donated to a great cause. We’re all there to support him and help him with his last shot at life. It’s definitely something to be involved in.
You walk around and just have a great time. If you have kids, there’s a free kids’ dash. It’s going to be a fun morning, a way to start out your Saturday donating to a great cause.
Why is this cause so important to you?
He could die today; he could die tomorrow. He was given six months when he was first diagnosed. He’s already beaten the odds. Everybody’s affected by cancer somehow, whether it’s a friend, a friend of a friend, a family member. To come out and support that, it’s pretty powerful. He’s a great guy, full of life and he’s not ready to give up. I just want to help him have that opportunity to be able to go to this hospital and have his last chance. There is no other solution. I’m trying to help him any way I can.