ODU Athletics

Get the Max With Minium: Danielle Jones Raises More than $25,000 for Cancer in Less Than 48 Hours

September 07, 2018
By ODU Athletics

By Harry Minium

Danielle Jones, the wife of Old Dominion basketball coach Jeff Jones, tried to turn a negative into a positive Wednesday when her husband announced that his prostate cancer had returned three years after it was surgically treated (Click here for story).

She kicked off a fundraising effort that afternoon to benefit the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, which provides a free place for patients to stay when they travel for treatments.

Little did she know just how positive her fundraising campaign would be. She donated $13,280, the amount Jones paid for a scan his insurance declined to pay for, and set a goal of $25,000.

She was shocked to learn that as of 2 p.m.. Friday, less than 48 hours after the announcement, they had already surpassed her goal of $25,000.

If so, that would be a quarter of the $100,000 that the wives of Coaches vs. Cancer had pledged to raise for the Hope Lodge when they met during the Final Four last spring in San Antonio.

Most of the known donors are ODU basketball fans or friends and admirers of the Joneses, but about half chose to remain anonymous.

One anonymous donation read: “In memory of my husband who died from prostate cancer.”

Carlton Bennett, a member and former rector of ODU’s Board of Visitors, and his wife, Beth, gave $1,000.

Boyd Abbott gave $1,000 with a message that said, “Love you Pop.”

I asked Jeff if he knew Boyd, and it turns out he’s his one-year-old grandson. His mother, Madison Jones Abbott, and her husband Scott made the donation.

Danielle Jones, who was driving home from a business meeting in Washington Friday, said the response was “overwhelming.”

“We’ve had donations from strangers and fans from other schools,” she said.

“The love people have shown for Jeff, the prayers people are saying for him and the generosity people have shown for cancer patients sort of render me speechless.”

Jason Chandler, ODU’s Associate Athletic Director for Revenue Generation and Marketing, said the University plans to partner with Danielle on several events in September, Prostate Cancer Awareness month, and will do more through the end of basketball season.

“We’re going to do everything we can to get the word out about helping cancer patients and for men to get tested for prostate cancer,” he said.

Since he was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, Jeff Jones has been outspoken about the need for me to get tested for their Prostate-Specific Antigen levels, which can indicate whether a man has prostate cancer.

Jones had not been tested prior to 2015, and did so only then because he was trying to qualify for a new life insurance policy.

“I had no symptoms at the time, and some people don’t have symptoms until it’s too late,” Jones said. “Men need to get tested.”

Some donors to the fund are associated with the University of Virginia basketball program, where Jones was a star player during the Ralph Sampson era and was later U.Va.’s head coach.

Jason Williford, who played for Jones at U.Va. and coaches for the Cavs, gave $1,000.

Will Yancey, a close friend of the Jones family, gave $25 and called Jones “The best passer to Ralph. EVER!”

Jim Adams donated $100 with the message: “Jeff, you never knew me, but we were at UVA at the same time. Sorry to hear of your struggles.”

Someone described only as a Southern Miss fan donated $10, while James Renick wrote: “U.Va. College 71 ODU MBA 77. Robotic Prostatectomy 2015. You go Jeff!”

Some reporters who covered Jones also contributed. Rob Daniels, a former journalist in Charlottesville and Greensboro and now a writer at Wake Forest University, made a donation. So did Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press columnist David Teel in honor of his father, Bill, and father in law Wayne Green. Both Bill Teel and Wayne Green died of cancer.

At a brief media event Thursday, Jones said he has been inundated with phone calls, texts and emails.

“It’s been very nice hearing from colleagues, friends, coaches from all over the country, especially hearing from a number of my former players,” he said. “It’s been humbling. I feel a little bit not worthy.”

Jones has been told that is cancer is incurable and aggressive. But doctors hope to control it with medication, which he began taking in July.

He decided to reveal that he had cancer now so he could turn his focus to basketball. He’ll be out of town most of next week on a recruiting trip. Practice begins in a few weeks.

“I feel great,” he said. “It’s amazing how in athletics people can kind of just get lost in your sports. That’s certainly the case with me. That’s what I would be doing anyway.

“It does give you a place not to hide, but to go and focus on something that you love rather than focus on something negative.”  

Meanwhile, Danielle Jones said she’s not stopping at $25,000.

“We’re going to try to find a way to keep this going,” she said, “so that we can help as many cancer patients as possible.”

Cancer fundraising Website: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/djs-hope-lodge-fundraiser?&DB_OEM_ID=31100

Information on being tested for prostate cancer: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/early-detection.html

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