Saturday, July 16, 2016

Flowers from "Celebration of Life" Given to Alzheimer's Patients

Random Acts of Flowers partnered with Alzheimer's Tennessee to repurpose the flowers from the Pat Summitt "Celebration of Life." Volunteers picked up the flowers from Thompson-Boling Arena, deconstructed the arrangements and created 372 bouquets that were delivered to Alzheimer’s and memory care patients in East Tennessee.

Executive Director for Random Acts of Flowers Knoxville branch, Jennifer Sheehan, says it is a great opportunity to brighten the day of someone else.

"We are humbled and honored that we are able to take her flowers and mix them with other flowers to create some beautiful bouquets that will serve close to 300 folks," Sheehan says.

Sheehan's father went through Alzheimer's and she says many of his friends were not sure how to act around him, creating a lonely time for their family.

"For those who receive flowers," Sheehan says, "even if they don't understand quite the meaning of it, for their caregivers and their family, for them they realize they haven't been forgotten. This disease robs you of your dignity, it robs you of your friends and family. So I hope they realize that they live in a community that cares about them and wants to be apart of their treatment."

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt by Maria Cornelius

With 1,098 wins and eight national championships, Lady Vol Coach Pat Summitt has left a remarkable legacy of perseverance, leadership, and passion for the game—but her victories on the court aren’t the only legacy she has left in her wake.

Since the beginning of her career as Lady Vol head coach at twenty-two years old, Pat Head Summitt effectively established the University of Tennessee Lady Vols as the top women’s athletics program in the nation. The winningest coach in the history of NCAA basketball, Summitt overcame one obstacle after another on the road to every victory, but it is the lives she has impacted along the way that tell the story of her true legacy. Forever a role model for young women, expecting nothing but the best from her players and from those around her, her legacy has never faltered—not even during her final season as head coach, when she faced her fiercest adversary yet: the diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

In The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt, Maria M. Cornelius tells the story of her final coaching season through the eyes of those who know her best, from players to support staff to Summitt’s closest friends and advisors. Beginning with the diagnosis that shook the Tennessee community in the summer of 2011 and continuing through to the final game of the 2011–12 season, The Final Season presents readers with a behind-the-scenes look at the conclusion of Summitt’s coaching career, detailing from the perspective of a sports writer how her diagnosis impacted her players and her staff as well as her fans.

With forewords by former Lady Vol Candace Parker and Swish Appeal editor Mike Robinson, The Final Season reveals how Summitt’s remarkable story of perseverance not only united a team of young women but also brought an entire sports following together, revealing an incredible support system that spanned far beyond Summitt’s Tennessee community. The coach’s determined spirit, selfless love, and sense of humor shine through the pages of Cornelius’s book, painting for readers the picture of a beloved leader and detailing the personal moments of defeat and triumph that make Summitt a true champion.

Watch Pat Summitt: Celebration of Life Service

Celebration of Life service for Lady Vol Basketball Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt, streamed live from Thompson-Boling Arena on July 14, 2016 at 7pm.

Watch Two Tributes to Pat Summitt

The Tennessee and Lady Vol family reflects on the passing of legendary coach Pat Summitt and her enduring legacy.

Eight national championships. 1,098 total wins. A 100 percent graduation rate. But Pat Summitt's legend transcends numbers. It transcends sport, gender and all things quantitative. As we mourn this immeasurable loss, we also celebrate Pat's unparalleled impact.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Fans Join Volunteer Greats at Event Honoring Hoops Legend Pat Summitt

Pat Summitt was remembered as a loving mother, a loyal friend and a tireless fighter as well as a champion coach Thursday in a public ceremony honoring the person who built the Tennessee women's basketball dynasty.

"She was the epitome of what being great is all about,'' said Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings, one of the dozens of former Lady Volunteers who paid respects to Summitt at a "Celebration of Life'' ceremony at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Catchings later added that "this is not a goodbye, but until we meet again.''

The ceremony at Thompson-Boling Arena gave the public a chance to honor Summitt, who won eight national titles and a Division I record 1,098 games in her 38-year tenure.

A private funeral was held June 30, two days after Summitt died at the age of 64.

Flowers mark a seat in Thompson-Boling Arena before a ceremony to celebrate
the life of former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt.
The list of speakers included recently retired quarterback Peyton Manning, a former Tennessee football star who called Summitt "someone who literally changed history.''

Manning said the only pieces of sports memorabilia he keeps in his office are two basketballs Summitt signed for his children.

Manning discussed visiting Summitt late in her fight against Alzheimer's disease, when she couldn't remember Manning's name. He talked about attending Summitt's private funeral and hearing from former Lady Vols star Chamique Holdsclaw, who told him that even as Summitt's memory faded, the coach still could point to the screen when one of Manning's games or commercials aired on television and would say, "That's my friend who comes to visit me. There goes my friend.''

"Pat Summitt didn't just change the history of Tennessee basketball or made this arena known well beyond the borders of this state,'' Manning said.

"She changed the history of the sport she loved -- and of sports in general. She almost singlehandedly made women's sports relevant well beyond mothers, daughters, sisters and grandmothers.''

Thursday's event attracted Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and a star-studded list of women's basketball coaches that included Connecticut's Geno Auriemma, who served as Summitt's greatest rival.

They were among several thousand spectators to honor Summitt at an arena where she orchestrated some of her greatest victories. The stage for Thursday's event included each of the Lady Vols' eight national championship trophies plus a stool and whistle used by Summitt, who coached Tennessee from 1974 to 2012.

Fans withstood an afternoon downpour as they waited to enter the arena. The distance traveled by many of them underscored the way Summitt built Lady Vols basketball into a national brand.

Former Tennessee basketball player Tamika Catchings, right, speaks during a ceremony
to celebrate the life of former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt. 
Patti Stephen drove more than 700 miles from Teaneck, New Jersey, to pay her final respects. She packed a lunch in her car and arrived on campus more than seven hours before the start of the ceremony to make sure she got a seat in the arena.

"I've been a Lady Vol fan for a long time, and it felt like I just needed to be here,'' said Stephen, who wore a T-shirt, hat and a set of bracelets bearing the message "We Back Pat.''

Speakers included "Good Morning America'' anchor Robin Roberts, current Tennessee coach Holly Warlick and former Lady Volunteers assistant Mickie DeMoss as well as Summitt's son, Tyler Summitt.

"For or all of us that in some way have been influenced by Pat Summitt, she wouldn't just want us to remember her example,'' Tyler Summitt said. "She would want us to go out and follow it. So let's not just celebrate her legacy. Let's carry it on.''

The ceremony had plenty of somber moments.

A videotape that aired during the event showed Warlick and former Lady Vols guard Michelle Brooke-Marciniak in tears as they described what Summitt had meant to them. The event opened with a bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace.''

"Tyler told me that's his mom's favorite song,'' Roberts said. "How appropriate. Two words that describe her (so well): Amazing. Grace.''

But it also included some laughter. Shelley Sexton-Collier, who played on Tennessee's 1987 national championship team, joked that she thought she was playing for Tennessee's cross country team because Summitt made them run so often. Warlick talked about how Summitt loved to drive fast and talk her way out of speeding tickets.

Warlick also had the crowd break into a rendition of "Rocky Top'' as the arena's video screens showed a tape of Summitt singing that song while wearing a cheerleader uniform before a Tennessee men's basketball game.

The eight national championship trophies won by former Tennessee women's
basketball coach Pat Summitt stand in front of the stage in Thompson-Boling Arena.
The list of women's basketball coaches at the ceremony featured Stanford's Tara VanDerveer, North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell, South Carolina's Dawn Staley, Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw, Baylor's Kim Mulkey, Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer, former Georgia coach Andy Landers and former Texas coach Jody Conradt among others.

Also in attendance were current SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, former SEC commissioners Mike Slive and Roy Kramer, Tennessee football coach Butch Jones, Duke football coach David Cutcliffe and former Tennessee football coaches Phillip Fulmer and Johnny Majors.

They came to honor everything Summitt achieved off the court as well as on it.

"The real accomplishment of Pat's life is this -- you won 1,098 games and eight national championships, and what people talk about in the end is it's not about how much you win but how much you did for others,'' said DeMoss, now an LSU assistant.

UT Student Paints "The Rock" to Honor Pat Summitt

As the life and legacy of Coach Pat Summitt are being celebrated Thursday night, a special tribute was made on campus in her honor. Artist and rising UT senior Payton Miller says it took about seven hours to spray paint the mural on "The Rock."

“I hope it’s a good way to commemorate Pat and it’s a proud moment for me as artist,” said Miller.

Miller says she normally doesn’t sketch her paintings but she wanted to make sure this one looked extra perfect. The UT senior described how she’s able to accomplish all the details.

“I did a couple of sketches to come up with this, so I started at 9:30 last night with about 30 cans of spray paint and worked till 4:30 this morning,” said Miller.

“I go in from the beginning and do some color blocking, outline first, then block color then I go in with details,” said Miller. “I also do highlights and low lights and with each painting I do I learn a little more about how to do it especially with faces.”

Miller says Pat Summitt is the first woman she has painted on "The Rock."

“I think if anyone deserves to be tributed on "The Rock," it’s definitely Pat Summitt,” said Miller.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Celebration of Life Service for Pat Summitt - July 14 at 7 p.m. - Televised on ESPN2 and SEC Network

A Celebration of Life service for Lady Vol Basketball Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt will take place at 7 p.m. ET on July 14 at the University of Tennessee's Thompson-Boling Arena. The public is invited, and admission is free.

Doors to the arena will open at 5:30 p.m. ET, and the general public may enter through Gates B, C, D and E with the usual ADA entrances also available. Attendees are asked to be seated and silence their cell phones by 6:30 p.m. ET so the program can begin promptly at 7.

We understand that those typically attending athletic events at Thompson-Boling Arena are accustomed to following guidelines that are standard for sporting events. While Thursday's Celebration of Life event is taking place in a UT athletic venue, it's important to remember that it is not a sporting event. It is the Summitt family's public memorial for a loved one.

In consideration of other guests, no signs will be allowed in the arena. Additionally, no photography of any kind will be permitted during the event. The public may view the official event photos in a gallery on following the service.

Live video streaming of any kind also will be prohibited inside Thompson-Boling Arena on the day of the service (no Periscope, Facebook Live, etc).

For those unable to attend, the service will be streamed live on and on The live stream page will be available July 14 on, and video of the event will be archived on afterward.

The service is slated to be televised nationally on ESPN2 and SEC Network, and several local TV stations throughout the state also are expected to carry the event.

Pat Summitt Commemorative Tee Available from The Pat Summitt Foundation

Go to to purchase the only official Pat Summitt Commemorative Tee from The Pat Summitt Foundation. Help us defeat Alzheimer's!