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Decked out with gold, glittery makeup and new Colorado Buffaloes gear, Bethany Buchanan was ready for a much-needed Saturday afternoon date with her husband.

For two hours at CU Events Center, Buchanan proudly watched Buffaloes senior guard Elijah Parquet and his teammates take on CSU Bakersfield.

“I hope that Eli feels my energy and my excitement and that I’m sending him all the good vibes, like now and in the future,” she said.

On Saturday, CU honored Buchanan and 16 other cancer patients with a “Bigger Than Basketball” event. Each player wore the names of the honorees on their backs, with Parquet representing Buchanan.

“I think for my family, it probably tugs at the heartstrings to see my last name on his jersey,” Buchanan, 37, said. “It’s really cool to see someone representing me on the court doing these physical things that I can’t do.”

CU teamed with UCHealth for the “Bigger Than Basketball” initiative, designed to help bring awareness to the fight against cancer.

Head coach Tad Boyle said that in his many years in sports, he has seen quite a few promotional events come across his desk, but this one stood out.

“It was like, ‘Why haven’t we been doing this for years?,’” said Boyle, who wore a purple cancer awareness lapel pin. “It meant so much. I thought it was branded so well — Bigger Than Basketball — because we all know how cancer has touched so many people’s lives through the years. Every family in some way, shape or form has been touched by it.”

Bethany Buchanan with her two children.On ...
Bethany Buchanan with her two children.On Saturday, CU honored Buchanan other 16 other cancer patients with a “Bigger Than Basketball” event. Each player wore the names of the honorees on their backs, with Elijah Parquet representing Buchanan.

Buchanan and her husband, who live in Morrison, are both CU alums. They have two children, ages 3 and 4. When the youngest was just six months old, Buchanan was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, which means she will be on treatment for the rest of her life.

“Of course, we always hold out hope that it’s going to go away,” she said. “But, instead of calling myself like a warrior or a patient or a survivor, I consider myself a thriver.”

For Buchanan, part of thriving means going skiing this season, taking a family trip, making the most of her time with the kids. And, it meant enjoying a day with the Buffs.

“One of my chemo nurses asked if I would be interested in it several months ago, and I was like, ‘Yeah!’ I’m a Buff, I love sports, my husband loves basketball,” she said. “And I think one of the cool things about it is the collaboration between UCHealth and CU Boulder.”

Buchanan and other patients met the Buffs through Zoom on Wednesday and shared their stories. That gave special meaning the names on each of their jerseys.

“For me, it meant a lot,” Buffs guard Keeshawn Barthelemy said. “When we met on Zoom, it really gave us like a perspective on how lucky we are to be here, play ball and be healthy. So it was just an honor to like their name and share their stories and stuff.”

Guard Nique Clifford added, “It was just a blessing to be able to play and honor them and just show our respects and pretty much just give them hope to keep fighting. I think it was an honor and I hope they enjoyed what we brought to the table tonight.”

Buchanan and the other patients in attendance (some watched remotely) enjoyed a pregame reception with family and friends, took home gift bags and then watched the game.

“It’s just a really fun event,” Buchanan said. “A lot of cancer events are philanthropic, they are fundraisers and they can feel a little bit heavy. This is an opportunity for all these families and cancer patients to get together and do something really fun.

“We’re kind of pretending that it’s like we’re young, wild and cancer free — like back in our CU days. I think it’s really cool that UCHealth and the Buffs are having this event to create awareness.”

Boyle hopes this is the first of many similar events for CU.

“We were proud to represent them and their families and their fight today,” he said. “But it’s more than that. There are thousands of people fighting cancer throughout the state, throughout this country. … We (also) hopefully had a day to represent UCHealth and the health care workers and all they’ve been through, certainly since COVID has started, but also the ones that work with cancer patients and have worked with cancer patients for the last 30, 40, 50 years.

“To have an opportunity to fight on the basketball floor and bring their fight to the public’s knowledge and our fans is an honor. It’s an honor for our players.”

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