LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 9th annual Spike IT To Cancer volleyball tournament was in full swing this weekend at King Louie’s Sports Complex. 

What You Need To Know

  • The 9th annual Spike IT To Cancer volleyball tournament started Saturday

  • It benefits the Mary Jane Gift Quality of Life Fund, which helps patients being treated for cancer 

  • Gift's sons, Alex and Tommy, organize the event to honor their mom

  • The fund is designed to improve patients quality of life

Before losing her fight to cancer in 2010, Mary Jane Gift left an impact on many people's lives, including her sons. To make sure their mother’s legacy lives on, Tommy and Alex Gift decided to start an event to benefit others going through the same fight.

“To watch someone that is staring this horrible disease in the face, to smile, to want to give back to want to make other people's lives better, to never complain with wigs and compressions socks on her legs, to never complaining just really molded me to try and help everybody all the time,” said Tommy Gift, co-founder of Mary Jane Gift Quality of Life Fund.

Amateur and professional co-ed teams alike compete in the tournament. (Spectrum News 1/Erin Wilson)

Spike IT To Cancer is a co-ed volleyball tournament that brings in both amateur and professional teams from surrounding states.

The tournament benefits the Mary Jane Gift Quality of Life Fund through the Brown Cancer Center. The fund helps patients being treated for cancer to stay positive, one of the lessons Mary Jane taught through her battle with cancer. 

Mary Jane Gift was not only a sister and daughter, she was a mother to both Alex and Tommy Gift. Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987, when her sons were 5 and 8 years old. Mary Jane passed away and her battle with cancer came to an end on April 26, 2010.

“[The event] is just impactful, knowing that you're coming out here not only to have a good time but you’re truly making a difference in the lives of others and who wouldn't want to do that,” said Paige Sutton, friend of Tommy and Alex.

Mary Jane Gift taught her sons countless lessons, and one she shared towards the end of her cancer fight inspired them to create the fund. The lesson was to be positive, be thankful and to step away from it all.

“She always said there's somebody out there having a worse day than you, and I live by that every single day so be thankful for every day you've got," Tommy said. "Step away from it all. She was in chemo for so long, she couldn't travel, she couldn't do anything but she would open up travel books and go places mentally that she knew she probably would never see again."

The fund is designed to help patients who are being treated for cancer and to improve their quality of life.

“We pay for housing for bone marrow transplant patients, we pay for CT scans for people that live in countries that don't have CT scans, we've handed out over a thousand cooked thanksgiving turkeys the day before Thanksgiving," Tommy said. "So just trying to let people know that they are fighting cancer that there are people out there that we will probably never know but we're all in this together."