Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Greg Gard to wear special shoes to honor his mother | Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Basketball

University of Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Greg Gard is no stranger to cancer.

His father, Glen Gard, died in October 2015 at the age of 72 of glioblastoma multiforme, a type of brain cancer. It was a month before Greg Gard became the Badgers’ coach.

Greg and his wife, Michelle, have raised more than $5 million through their Garding Against Cancer initiative. The Gards, inspired by the loss of Greg’s father, have been dedicated to fighting cancer across Wisconsin.

His knowledge of cancer didn’t make anything easier when his mother, Connie, recently was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“It still impacts you and specifically her mentally,” Gard said Tuesday. “You right away go to what happened (with my dad). What the result was with that, at the end of his treatments and his fight with it. We’re very positive that we’ve got a good plan in place, and the doctors are very optimistic and positive that there can be a success with this.”

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Connie, 75, is in her fourth week of chemotherapy treatment.

UW announced Tuesday the team will participate in Coaches vs. Cancer “Suits and Sneakers Week” this week. The Badgers play at Nebraska on Thursday and host Minnesota on Sunday.

Greg Gard will wear pink shoes and the staff and players will wear special pink laces in support of Connie.

Badgers men's basketball: Coaches vs. Cancer event has new meaning for Greg Gard

“When you have this type of news again, it hits home,” Gard said. “For her, I want to do that, and I got her permission to do it before I was going to come out with the pink shoes. I felt it was important and our staff all wanted to wear pink laces. They asked if they could do that.”

Gard said it’s been hard for his family knowing what happened with his father six years ago, but family and friends have rallied around Connie to provide support.

Despite the fear, the Gards are optimistic. Connie’s prognosis is favorable, and breast cancer is more treatable than brain cancer.

“We have the fortunate, unfortunate ability to have access to a lot of professionals in that we can get answers,” Gard said. “My cancer vocabulary is very deep now over the last six years, so I kind of know the questions to ask, and then I can understand their longer words and that type of stuff. But she’s doing OK. It’s hard for anybody. But she’s got a lot of support. She’s a very strong woman.”

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Gard’s mother’s diagnosis adds to an already trying season for the Badgers off the court. Chris Vogt’s hometown was decimated by tornados in December and Chucky Hepburn’s childhood friend was killed earlier this week.

Gard said it puts things into perspective and shows the team that there are things bigger than basketball.

“We told them as a staff, ‘We’re way more than your basketball coach,’” Gard said. “That’ll be something that’s going to go on forever. I always tell them, ‘Until they throw dirt on me, I’m here for you.’ … We’re going to celebrate a lot of good times together. We have celebrated a lot of good times. We’re gonna have a lot of good celebrations down the road with marriages and families and all those types of things, but we’re also going to have some pretty serious gut punches. Today’s a pretty serious gut punch.”


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