Iowa Small Town is Making Big Impact on Cancer Research

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DES MOINES, Iowa - Eight years ago, Jim and Angie Uitermarkt had no idea the small fundraiser they were organizing for the American Cancer Society would become so large.

Coaches vs. Cancer started out as a varsity basketball match at Knoxville High School in 2009. In that first year, the Uitermarkts saw their fundraiser raise $4,817.06 for the American Cancer Society. Each year, adding new ideas and new events to raise more money, the couple -- both teachers and coaches in the Knoxville community -- saw the event blossom into one that raised $86,372 in 2015 for cancer research.

In all, Coaches vs. Cancer has raised more than $282,610 by the Knoxville community. The results have even earned Coaches vs. Cancer the ranking of largest high school fundraiser in the nation for the American Cancer Society.

"I think one of the reasons it is what it is, is because we are a small community," Jim Uitermarkt said. "And it's pretty easy for a community our size to really come together, it's easy to communicate with a community our size. Knoxville takes a lot of pride in good causes, and this is one of those."

It's not just the community of Knoxville chipping in. People from all over Iowa come to support the cause, raising more money each year.

Over the course of eight years, alumni basketball games and a silent auction have been added to the event. This year, even local farmers are chipping in, donating a portion of their harvest to the fundraiser for "Bushels for a Cure."

"Never in our wildest dreams, did we ever, ever think that was going to happen," Angie Uitermarkt said. "And we've always had the mindset, that something is better than nothing. It's not that we're set out to, you know, we want to beat it - obviously - every year. But that's not our goal. Our goal is to raise money and raise awareness for this deadly disease."

Here's how you can support the 2016 Coaches vs. Cancer:

Saturday - from 8 a.m. - Alumni games and a silent auction are set to kick off the event at Knoxville High School, located at 1811 W. Madison St., on Saturday at 8 a.m.

The main event is a boys and girls varsity game, which is at 6: 15 p.m.

Entry fees and all  concessions stand purchases go toward the fundraiser.

The silent auction will feature over 200 items. If you'd like to donate an item for the auction or just donate to the cause, you can call Knoxville High School at 641-842-2173.