March 31, 2009

Tiffara Steward Named 2009 Recipient of V Foundation Comeback Award

Farmingdale State’s Tiffara Steward Named 2009 Comeback Award Recipient

V Foundation Award announced on ESPN Tonight

For TUESDAY Release March 31, 2009


Cary, N.C. – Farmingdale State College's women's basketball junior guard Tiffara Steward has been named the recipient of the ninth annual V Foundation Comeback Award, given annually by The V Foundation for Cancer Research in collaboration with ESPN. ESPN will make the announcement during their telecast of the NIT semi-finals on Tuesday night. The award will be presented to Steward later this year at the Jimmy V New York City Basketball Dinner.

A junior starting point guard on the Farmingdale State College women’s basketball team, Steward stands at only 4’6”, but her short stature hasn’t been her biggest obstacle. She was born three months premature (May 12, 1988) weighing only 2 ½ pounds and was eight inches long. After undergoing six surgeries by the time she was three years old, Steward still battles multiple permanent disabilities. She is blind in her right eye, as she was born without a cornea, and has over 50% hearing loss in both ears. She has a leg discrepancy, and also battles severe scoliosis. Her spine, to date, is still not completely fused. This was all unknown to many of her teammates, the coaches and administration until recently. She received major minutes off the bench her freshman and sophomore years before earning the starting spot this season.

“I would like to thank the committee for selecting me, because all the other finalists were as worthy as I was for this prestigious award,” said Steward. “The V Foundation does great things for cancer research which makes this more important, as cancer has affected my family many times. My grandfather passed away after a long and courageous battle with lung cancer, my grandmother lives on today as a 14-year breast cancer survivor, my other grandmother survived a battle with colon cancer and my mom is a survivor of cervical cancer. Through their hope and fight, they’ve taught me that nothing can stop you, unless you let it overcome you.”

“I am humbled to receive an award given in memory of Coach Valvano,” she continued. “I believe, like Coach V, that one should never give up, no matter what disabilities or hardships you are faced with. Your goals may be a little more difficult to achieve, but if you try and try again, you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to,” she concluded.

The V Foundation Comeback Award is open to men and women collegiate basketball student-athletes in all NCAA divisions. It is awarded to an individual or a team who has accomplished a personal triumph in the face of true adversity, be it in health, life or moral dilemma. The award is presented in memory of Jim Valvano, the late basketball coach and ESPN commentator, whose personal battle with cancer inspired the creation of The V Foundation. In his memorable speech at ESPN’s inaugural ESPY Awards announcing the creation of The V Foundation, Valvano’s “Don’t Give Up… Don’t Ever Give Up!”® motto created a legacy from which the Comeback Award has been created.

“Tiffara is very deserving of this award. She stands for all that is good in college athletics. She is an inspiration to her teammates and I can’t think of a more appropriate individual to be honored,” said Chris Mooney, Farmingdale State’s head women’s basketball coach.

“It is with great pleasure that we honor Tiffara Steward with the 2009 V Foundation Comeback Award,“ said V Foundation CEO Nick Valvano. “My brother Jim was a great fan of women’s basketball, so he would be doubly pleased that the award created in his memory be given to Tiffara. Her comeback battle has been a lifelong display of sheer courage and determination. She embodies a never give up spirit every day of her life. We are proud to welcome her to the list of incredible young men and women who have received this award before her.”

Past recipients of the award are Purdue’s Katie Douglas (2001), Western Michigan’s Kristin Koetsier (2002), Arizona State’s Justin Allen (2003), Texas’ Jamie Carey (2004), Washington’s Kayla Burt (2005); Western Washington’s Grant Dykstra (2006), the United States Military Academy Women’s Basketball Team (2007) and Drexel’s Nicole Hester (2008).

Steward was selected from a group of 12 finalists who were nominated by their athletic departments. The recipient was chosen by a committee of members of The V Foundation Board of Directors. The other 2009 finalists were: Suzanne Albert, Felician College; Jermaine Bishop, Northern Arizona University; Kelvin Davis, San Diego State University; Joe Ford, University of the Pacific; Jerika Jenkins, Hampton University; Brooke Johnson, Western Carolina University; Cait McMahan, University of Tennessee; Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Team, University of Mississippi; Eleia Roddy, University of Kentucky; Dana Pernell Smith II, Longwood University; Azania Stewart, University of Florida.

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Program Contacts:
The V Foundation for Cancer Research: Sherrie Mazur (smazur@jimmyv.org) 919-380-9505
ESPN: Michael Humes (Michael.C.Humes@espn.com) 860-766-2233
Farmingdale State Athletics: Deana Ward (deana.ward@farmingdale.edu) 631-420-2178

The V Foundation for Cancer Research
The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator. Since 1993, The Foundation has raised more than $80 million to fund cancer research grants nationwide. It awards 100 percent of all new direct cash donations and net proceeds of events directly to cancer research and related programs. The Foundation, which has received six consecutive top 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator, awards grants through a competitive awards process strictly supervised by a Scientific Advisory Board. For more information on The V Foundation or to make a donation, please visit www.jimmyv.org.

Team ESPN
Team ESPN encompasses ESPN’s multi-faceted corporate outreach programs including volunteerism, corporate giving and cause marketing, while utilizing its diverse media assets. Through Team ESPN, ESPN, its employees, and its fans work together to make a difference in our world and the communities in which we live. Team ESPN. . .Fans Helping Fans. www.teamespn.com.

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