GIFFORD — Tickets for Tuesday night’s Kickin’ Cancer Dinner & Auction were approaching sellout status in January, with less than 50 available.
The increased demand prompted the addition of more tickets for the Coaches vs. Cancer event at Gordyville.
The crowd at Gordyville USA reached 750 on Tuesday — up 150 from the event’s first year at the venue last spring.
“I think it’s unique,” Illini men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood said.
“Everybody likes to throw on a good pair of cowboy boots and know we’re going to be in a relaxed atmosphere and know we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Two special guests added to the fun Tuesday night, with South Carolina coach Frank Martin and former Nebraska coach Time Miles in attendance. Miles jumped in right away, calling out numbers for raffle winners during the tailgate before the event formally started.
“Knowing these guys were coming in was a big part of (the crowd),” Underwood said. “They’re an attraction. All of us have been on different boards with Coaches vs. Cancer. They all run their own events, and we’ve all been to theirs. They understand what we’re trying to do here, and they were willing to come in and help.”
Jimmy Hannagan was in charge of Tuesday night’s auction. The regular Gordyville USA auctioneer has been attending the annual Coaches vs. Cancer event since it was held at The Beef House in Covington, Ind.
“One of my best ones was when Gene Keady and Lou Henson were there, and they were going back and forth,” Hannagan said. “It was awesome.”
Hannagan said he never expected the event to grow to the size it has and was hoping the increase in attendance this year will be repeated next year, too.
“It’s great everybody is coming out to support this event,” he said. “It’s just word getting out, and everybody’s having fun.
“They like the country atmosphere, I guess. Everybody’s got a little hillbilly in them.”