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Bucs team up for Finnegan’s Challenge

Support children with birth defects and their families Nov. 4 as we kick off #FinnegansChallenge.

Doc Sander and now 7-year-old grandson Finnegan smiling together.

Come out, shoot a hoop and tune in Nov. 4 for a 24-hour free throw competition in ETSU’s Brooks Gym starting at 8 a.m. Finnegan’s Challenge is a fundraising event to provide resources for parents, teachers, therapists and others who care for children with birth defects and ensure those children have success. 

A celebrity free throw challenge will begin at 7 p.m., with tickets on sale for $10 per person, $20 per family, and free to ETSU students with a valid student ID. The event is free, open to the public and everyone is invited to attend. Face masks are required indoors on the ETSU campus.  

As part of Finnegan’s Challenge, 75-year-old Richard Doc” Sander, former ETSU athletic director, will attempt to exceed 3,300 free throws – a number representing the 1 in 33 children born with a birth defect.  

Doc Sander speaks at a podium in Brooks Gym during a press conference announcing Finengan's Challenge. Ballad Health and ETSU officials are to his sides.The 24-hour event is named after Sander’s grandson, Finnegan Sander, who was born with a birth defect. Twenty-four hours after his birth, Finnegan had already received his first surgery to save his life. In three months, he had a second surgery, followed four months later by his third surgery. When a child is born with a birth defect every four and a half minutes, surgical costs can greatly impact the lives of children and their loved ones, dramatically impacting the life path of an entire family.   

“When Finnegan came into the world, my entire outlook on life was impacted,” Doc Sander said. “Because of Finnegan’s birth defect, we witnessed firsthand how dramatically the life path of an entire family would be totally affected. We had not thought about how emotional stress, worry and trauma surrounding issues of the birth defect would impact the family of that child. That is why we have created Finnegan’s Challenge to develop a community of support and resources to help families navigate through these challenges.” 

This challenge will bring supporters together online, challenging them to donate for every free throw they make. Participants can upload their videos to social media with the hashtag #FinnegansChallenge to show their support and highlight the need for resources for children and families affected by the challenges associated with birth defects.   

The entire 24-hour event will be livestreamed on Facebook at Donations can be made at Finnegan's Challenge logo.

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