0

Hospitals renew rivalry for cancer fundraiser

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Nedra Joyner, left, Reggie McDaniel and Pam Kramer cheer for Emory Eastside during a fundraising basketball game against Gwinnett Medical Center at Dacula High School on Tuesday. The hospitals were raising money for their Relay for Life teams.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Nedra Joyner, left, Reggie McDaniel and Pam Kramer cheer for Emory Eastside during a fundraising basketball game against Gwinnett Medical Center at Dacula High School on Tuesday. The hospitals were raising money for their Relay for Life teams.

DACULA -- The cause? Great.

The collective professional resume? Impressive.

The basketball acumen? We'll go with ... an "A" for effort.

Teams of physicians and other staff members from Eastside Medical Center and Gwinnett Medical Center squared off in a steamy Dacula High School gym Tuesday night, battling for bragging rights and to raise money for Relay for Life.

All told, almost $8,000 was collected for the American Cancer Society's chief fundraiser before and during the 40-minute basketball game. A crowd of about 200 people also got to see some of the county's finest doctors put their athletic prowess on display.

"It was a pretty good game," Ginger Powell, one of the chief organizers of the event, said with a laugh. "Especially considering I know the age of some of these guys."

Eastside eventually emerged victorious, taking the crown with a 57-49 win. Eastside-affiliated Dr. John Maxa and his wife Dr. Leela Maxa were the primary sponsors of the event, the re-installment of a former tradition that turned heated.

"I guess there was some bad blood, there were some elbows thrown and some fist fights," Maxa said, huffing and puffing at halftime. "Gwinnett said they never wanted to play us again. I guess people's memories faded and we decided to try it again."

Tuesday's game got off to a rocky start, with Eastside winning the opening tip and proceeding to fire off three straight airballs. Shots started falling after that, and a hot hand from GMC support tech Phil Bailey helped carry his team to a five-point halftime lead.

Behind a pair of crucial 3-pointers from Scott "Hutch" Hutchinson, Eastside fought its way back in its specially made black uniforms.

The gym roared and good-naturedly booed referees (Eastside security guards) with every call. GMC supporters stomped the bleachers every time an Eastside player stepped to the free throw line.

Eastside CEO Kim Ryan acted as a cheerleader, along with a physician that reportedly tore a rotator cuff in the last matchup in 2003.

"It's pretty competitive," Maxa said. "These guys have two ringers on their team that are pretty amazing players."

Things got a little heated in the waning minutes, with a hard foul on a GMC player. Unconfirmed rumor had it that the victim was a former Eastside doctor.

Dr. Richard Maxa, a Duluth internal medicine specialist, played for Gwinnett Medical.

"(Raising money for Relay for Life) is what it's all about, having fun, staying injury-free and seeing a couple of hard fouls on the opposition," he said with a smile. "Unfortunately it happened to us."

As of Tuesday night, more than $640,000 total had been raised for Gwinnett Relay for Life, held May 6 at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds.


If you are having problems viewing this slide show, click here