Cancer doesn’t care about football games or charitable causes, but Alan Gooch ’84 ’89MA does. Gooch, a UCF Athletics Hall of Famer, was moved to help create the Cure Bowl in 2015 as a way of supporting cancer research through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
He was a standout player who rose through UCF’s coaching ranks after graduation, becoming one of two players nationwide to become head coach without ever leaving their alma mater.
Gooch is also the executive director of the Orlando Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness and funds for cancer research through the development and operation of sporting and social events.
The Cure Bowl is one of ten events held each year throughout the Central Florida community; thanks to the generosity of its supporters, it has raised $3.88 million for cancer research, and approximately $1.4 million of that has benefited the groundbreaking research done by Dr. Annette Khaled, head of the Division of Cancer Research and tenured professor at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences in the UCF College of Medicine. Khaled has been hailed as a “cancer assassin” due to her development of the use of nanoparticles to track down and kill metastatic breast cancer cells.
At a 2008 planning meeting for the foundation, Gooch and his colleagues were tasked with picking a cause that the OSF would support through its fundraising efforts. They had been approached by ESPN but had not yet agreed to hosting a bowl game, which requires not only a team effort, but the strength and support of an entire community.
As Gooch recalls, John Rhodes ’93 suggested throwing the power of the Cure Bowl behind cancer research. Rhodes had brought in his sister, who was battling cancer, along with other cancer survivors.
“What I can tell you,” said one of the survivors, “is that cancer takes no holiday — this will be an important bowl game, especially if raising money for cancer is going to be a part of it.”
It was a no-brainer for Gooch.
“That was basically the arrow that punctured my soul,” Gooch says. And on the drive home, Gooch had a call from his wife Linda ’85, longtime head coach of UCF’s nationally respected cheerleading team, who wanted to know how the meeting had gone.
“It looks like we’re going to do a bowl game,” Gooch said.
With the help of the community, Gooch says that the Cure Bowl has grown to be more than a college football bowl game — the community has embraced it. In an official proclamation City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has renamed Church Street as Cure Bowl Way on Cure Bowl Day — the day Orlando goes pink. “It has become a movement – Orlando vs. Cancer in the Cure Bowl,” says Gooch.
“Our mission is bringing teams together to find a cure for cancer. We are using the power of pink because everyone recognizes that color, but we truly are trying to solve cancer because we know it touches so many people.”
The 2022 Cure Bowl will be held on December 13 at Orlando City Soccer’s Exploria Stadium. Area nonprofits are invited to participate in the Orlando Sports Foundation’s (OSF) Give Back program where their organization will receive 50 percent of all tickets sold through a special link.
Survivors and Thrivers of cancer are invited to participate in a three-block hero walk prior to kickoff, Gooch says. The March2Cure parade will commence at 1 pm at Church Street Station; the pregame Fan Fest will begin at 10:30 am at Exploria Stadium.
For more details and ticket information, visit https://www.curebowl.com/
Contact Alan Gooch for more information via email: [email protected]