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Norma Mae Huggins Endowment Fund: Advancing the Standard of Care

Nearly two decades after her passing, Norma Mae Huggins is changing the lives of cancer patients in West Virginia and beyond.

Huggins, the mother of legendary WVU Men’s Basketball Coach Bob Huggins, passed away May 24, 2003, following a long battle with colon cancer. In her memory, Coach Huggins established the Norma Mae Huggins Endowment at the WVU Cancer Institute. The fund supports patient care and clinical research targeting the types of cancer common among residents of West Virginia, which has one of the highest cancer mortality rates in the nation.

Huggins partners with the WVU Cancer Institute to host and participate in fundraising events throughout the year, including the annual Bob Huggins Fish Fry in Morgantown, Huggins Homecoming in Cincinnati, An Evening with Bob Huggins in Beckley, and more. As of late 2022, his efforts have raised over $17 million to support cancer care and research via the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Endowment.

WVU alumnus Pete Zulia lost his father, Simon, to cancer and bonded with Huggins over the shared loss of their parents. He organized the Huggins Homecoming event in an effort to raise $1 million for the Norma Mae Huggins Endowment.

“Our goal has been, from the start, to not only create support for research and care, but ultimately form treatment models that cure people of this disease,” Zulia said. “Sharing the mission and hope with Coach Huggins is an inspiration to all of us.”

Major gifts from dedicated supporters have also helped to boost the fund. William “Mickey” Knowles Jr. contributed $1.27 million in memory of his late wife, Deborah, who battled metastatic breast cancer.

“I’m just trying to do the right thing,” Knowles said. “I want to make a difference in somebody’s life, give somebody the chance my wife didn’t have. … I appreciate the fact that the money stays in the state. I appreciate the fact that the research happens here. Anything I can do to help change the outcome of cancer, I’m for it.”

The generosity of Huggins and his growing legion of supporters is making a difference to lessen the cancer burden in West Virginia by offering patients the best possible care close to home.

“Who says we can’t find a cure for cancer right here in West Virginia?” Huggins said. “I think the people in this state deserve a first-class situation in terms of fighting cancer, and we certainly have that. But we’ve got to get more. We’ve got to get it to the point where we really can help. I would be the happiest person in the world if we found a cure for cancer right here in West Virginia.”

Interested supporters [can make a gift to the Norma Mae Huggins Endowment online] ( at our secure giving site.

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