LEXINGTON, Ky. - On Friday, Transylvania alum Max Gjerde put the game of basketball into perspective for the men's basketball team.
Max Gjerde was a long-time fan of the Transylvania men's basketball team who had a reputation for supporting the Pioneers as part of the "Crimson Crazies" student fan group. Gjerde was an exceptional student at Transylvania. A graduate of Walton-Verona High School where he ran cross country, he received one of Transylvania's prestigious William T. Young Scholarships and studied international affairs. He had a very promising future ahead of him.
After graduating from Transylvania, as he prepared to enter UK's Patterson School of Diplomacy, he was diagnosed with a rare form of soft tissue cancer called alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. When it was diagnosed, it was stage 4.
The last few years have been difficult for Gjerde, but he his passion for Transylvania basketball thrived. Though he had tickets to the Kentucky vs.Transylvania game on Nov. 1, he found himself in the hospital unable attend.
His nurse at UK Children's Hospital (Max's cancer was a type of childhood cancer) called Transylvania's Athletics Director, Holly Sheilley, and asked if she thought Head Coach Brian Lane and the team might contact Max before the game.
Lane didn't hesitate.
Minutes before walking into the doors of Rupp Arena, Lane and the men's basketball team took time to video chat with Max from his hospital room at UK Children's Hospital. Max's nurse, Diana, told Sheilley that getting a chance to talk with the team had a huge impact on Max. It put him right in the middle of the action, and it boosted his spirits immeasurably.
In speaking with Gjerde, Lane promised that "all of tonight's three-pointers are for you." And, the promise stuck. Gjerde's roommate and friend Bryan Conover began the #3sforMax hashtag on Twitter, which grew in popularity among alums, staff, faculty and students alike.
Lane made a surprise stop by the hospital to see Gjerde on Sunday. On Monday at 9:07 a.m., Max lost his battle to cancer.
In talking with some of Max's closest friends, one can hear the stories that reflect the true nature of who he was. It was his easy-going nature, his attitude about his illness and his general charisma that drew so many people to him and to his story. Estimates are that he had 100 visitors during his last week in the hospital, and it's said that nurses plan to name their children after him.
Near and dear to Gjerde's heart was his charity of choice: Â 3 Little Birds 4 Life. Their mission is to enhance the lives of young adult cancer patients with any type of cancer at any stage.
This season, Lane and the Pioneers have decided to continue their #3sforMax for the 2013-14 season, giving every pledged donation to 3 Little Birds 4 Life in honor of Gjerde.