HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- An NCAA title game in his home state? Dan Hund would've loved this day.
"He was a big sports fan," Tom Hund said of his son, Dan. "Huge into professional sports, and, of course, TCU, where he received multiple degrees."
But this day, April 3, when UConn and San Diego State face off for the NCAA Men's Basketball title in Houston, is also a somber date for Tom.
"Really the saddest day of my life," Tom admitted. "April 3 is the day we got the fatal diagnosis. I call it the day we lost hope. We went from trying to treat cancer to just trying to make him comfortable in his last days."
Three years ago, Dan Hund, at the age of 35, died after a battle with adrenal cancer.
"It's a one in a million cancer, and also a very deadly cancer," Tom revealed. "His oncologist will tell you he went through more things than anyone should have to endure."
To honor Dan's legacy, loved ones established the Dan Hund Memorial to Stomp Out Cancer. It's an annual fundraiser connected to March Madness - a bracket contest in which entrants compete to win a pair of never-worn shoes from Dan's impressive collection. This year's first place shoe is the Nike Lebron XVI, and second place is the Adidas AlphaBounce. Every dollar raised goes towards rare cancer research at MD Anderson in Houston, where Dan was treated.
"Dan would love sports, shoes and raising money to try and fight rare, rare cancers," Tom said of his late son.
Monday night, two miles from MD Anderson Cancer Center, UConn is playing the 67th and final game of this year's bracket. On the floor, Huskies star freshman Donovan Clingan wears No. 32 in honor of his late mother Stacey, who died from cancer.
"I wanted to honor her in the best way possible, and that was by wearing her number," Clingan explained to ABC13. "She played at the University of Maine. She loved the game as much as I do, and that's why I play. It's something to make her proud. This is the sport we both loved."
Just three of the 340 brackets entered into this year's Dan Hund memorial pool picked UConn to take the title. The real winner in all this? The contest has raised nearly $200,000 for cancer research.
"Cancer sucks," Clingan noted. "It ruins families and ruins communities and people's lives. My mom beat cancer once and then got it again, which hurt the most. I feel like with my platform, I can tell people about cancer and help them work through it."
"There are very few people on earth that haven't had a friend or family member affected by this disease," Tom added. "Anything we can do to advance the cause is something we should do. Tom always felt he'd be part of the eventual solution - even if it wasn't himself that was saved."
Dan Hund will not be here to see the solution, but his legacy will help others fighting rare cancer: those walking his same path, and maybe even while wearing his shoes.
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