Cancer Walk boosted by community support that Garry Brodhead, Tony Robichaux knew well

Tim Buckley
The Daily Advertiser

On Friday night, UL will play its first baseball game since 1994 without Tony Robichaux as its head coach. On Saturday, a statue of Robichaux standing outside of M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park will be unveiled.

Opening weekend for the No. 24 Ragin’ Cajuns will be a continuance of the love shown for the Robichaux family since he passed away last July, 10 days after a heart attack.

UL women’s basketball coach Garry Brodhead, who has something special of his own going on Saturday, knows a little bit about community support in trying times too.

The second annual Andrea Brodhead Foundation Cancer Walk — held in memory of Brodhead’s late wife, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2015 — will be held from 11 a.m. until noon on Saturday at the Cajundome.

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UL women's basketball coach Garry Brodhead greets Ragin' Cajun players during last season's cancer research awareness "Pink Game" against Texas State. This year's "Pink Game" is Saturday vs. Georgia Southern.

“Me and Tony Robichaux spoke about this when my wife passed, and his mom was going through health issues,” Brodhead said of the way Cajuns come together when one of their own is in need.

“He grabbed me one morning and said how important it was for us to be here in the community, at this university, because (elsewhere) we wouldn’t have been able to coach and do what we did, and take care of our family at the same time.

“And I think it’s always stuck in my mind that this community is special, man,” Brodhead added. “And it really doesn’t have to be about cancer. It can be any issue that comes up in this community. People will rise up. Like Tony used to say, ‘Stand up.’ They do stand up.”

It’s what helped keep Brodhead on his feet when he was really down.

More:Legendary UL baseball coach Tony Robichaux dies

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“For me, that I saw,” the Cajuns coach said, his voice cracking as he spoke earlier this week. “I saw a lot of my friends, family and community step up and help me to get through it.

“It made it special, to have that kind word. It’s amazing. Some people don’t want to talk about it. I’m opposite. I’d rather talk about it and get through it.

“So, man, I had so many people that were calling me, and concerned about my program, and all that,” Brodhead added. “So it’s a blessing to be here. Truly a blessing to be here. … And we don’t thank the community enough for what they do for us.”

Registration for the cancer walk opens at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Brodhead, whose Cajuns were 13-9 going into Thursday night's home game against Georgia State, will make opening remarks at 10 a.m. A meet-and-greet with Brodhead’s team is scheduled for 1 p.m.

And at 2 p.m. UL will play Georgia Southern in its annual “Pink Game” at the Cajundome, where cancer survivors will be recognized throughout the contest.

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Cost of the walk is $10, which also includes a T-shirt and a ticket to the game. T-shirts can be purchased for $5, with all proceeds going to the foundation.

The foundation, according to Brodhead, is used mainly to provide a UL scholarship for someone that has cancer or has someone in their family with cancer, and also to bring awareness to the fight for a cure to cancer.

Before UL’s game Saturday, Cajun players will hear first-hand the personal tales of cancer survivors.

“It’s awesome. I wish everybody could be in the locker room, to hear the stories,” said Brodhead, a former assistant coach at McNeese, where a Cancer Walk in Lake Charles drew more than 10,000, before taking over at UL in 2012.

“And my kids, our players, get so much out of it. You know, they listen to their story. … You listen to them, and it’s their day to come in and to share with us. It was that way at McNeese. There’s not a dry eye in the locker room.

“And to be able to go play afterward … it’s emotional. It gets us going,” Brodhead added. “I think it gets us going in the right direction. You start thinking about other peoples’ lives, and how blessed we truly are to have health.”

Related:UL women remember Andrea Brodhead with inaugural cancer walk