Gary Bowne, head basketball coach at Hickory Christian Academy, was named a 2019 Coaches vs. Cancer High School Champion by the American Cancer Society. Bowne was presented with the award at the Tate Center in Hickory on Wednesday. He is one of only three coaches nationally to receive the honor for 2019.

The Coaches vs. Cancer High School Champion Award is presented to an individual who demonstrates exceptional support of and participation in, youth and high school programs and contributes to the mission of the American Cancer Society and the Coaches vs. Cancer program via leadership, service and innovation, a press release from the American Cancer Society said.

Bowne serves on the Coaches vs. Cancer National Council and has helped raise $200,000 over his 23-year involvement.

Through Coaches vs. Cancer, Bowne found a way to combine his love of basketball and his passion for helping those battling cancer.

Bowne said he wanted to be part of Coaches vs. Cancer because it hit so close to home.

Gary Bowne and his wife, Lisa, are both cancer survivors. Gary Bowne has been in remission for four years while his wife is in her second month of remission from leukemia.

“This year has been very personal,” he said.

Gary Bowne coached the St. Stephens High School basketball team from 1991 to 2011 and now coaches the Hickory Christian Academy basketball team.

Throughout his time at both schools, Bowne has encouraged his athletes to educate themselves on cancer and to take part in helping to raise funds for Coaches vs. Cancer.

“When you think of the generations, we’ve got 23 years of athletes over at St. Stephens and Hickory Christian who are now more aware of cancer,” Gary Bowne said. “It’s a team effort.”

Bowne also led other high school coaches in North Carolina by getting them involved with Coaches vs. Cancer and serves on the Area Board for the American Cancer Society in Western North Carolina and South Carolina.

“Basketball mirrors life,” he said. “You don’t get ‘do-overs,’ you got to react quickly, you got to be a team member and everyone has their role.”

Coaches vs. Cancer is a program started by Norm Stewart, cancer survivor and former coach, and the American Cancer Society with the goal to unite coaches and fans to help fight cancer, according to the American Cancer Society website.

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