Fish Fry draws record crowd for Barkley, raises $1.8M to aid WVU Cancer Institute and Remember the Miners

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – NBA great Charles Barkley’s special guest appearance at the 2023 Bob Huggins Fish Fry was a slam dunk, scoring a record crowd and more than $1.8 million to support the WVU Cancer Institute and Remember the Miners.

The Fish Fry, now in its 11th year, recorded its first sellout following the announcement of Barkley’s appearance. An estimated 2,700 people attended the event Friday, Jan. 27, at Mylan Park’s Hazel and J.W. Ruby Community Center to see Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame members Barkley and Huggins share the stage. 

Barkley and Huggins swapped stories about life and basketball as attendees enjoyed delicious food, live and silent auctions, and more. The Davisson Brothers Band and Lords of Lester provided live music, and Tony Caridi served as emcee.

Proceeds from the event, presented by Little General Stores, benefit two causes close to Huggins’ heart – the Norma Mae Huggins Endowment at the WVU Cancer Institute and the Remember the Miners Flagship Scholars Program.

“To be able to share the night with 2,700 people who share the same passion and fight that I do in supporting these two great causes is amazing,” Huggins said. “It shows the strength of our state and its people. Charles’ willingness to join us really put things over the top, and I can’t thank him enough. It was a really special night.” 

Huggins established the Norma Mae Huggins Endowment in 2003 to honor his mother, who passed away after a long battle with colon cancer. Including this year’s Fish Fry contributions, the endowment has raised over $20 million to make a difference in the lives of patients at the WVU Cancer Institute.

“We are grateful to Coach Huggins and his growing legion of Fish Fry supporters for their dedication and generosity,” Hannah Hazard-Jenkins, M.D., director of the WVU Cancer Institute, Jean and Laurence DeLynn Chair of Oncology, and associate professor of surgery at the WVU School of Medicine, said.

“I look forward to the Fish Fry every year because it’s such an engaging opportunity to bring people together and reflect on how cancer affects us all. By sharing personal stories and giving back, Coach Huggins and his guests are helping us promote better health in West Virginia and beyond through cancer prevention, treatment, and research.”

Remember the Miners is a nonprofit public awareness campaign committed to telling the story of America’s coal miners. Remember the Miners honors miners through events, media, and its flagship Scholars Program, which supports students at WVU’s Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. To date, the Fish Fry has raised about $300,000 in scholarship and general support for the Department of Mining and Industrial Extension.

“The Mining Extension department at the Statler College has been very thankful for the support that has been given by the Remember the Miners organization,” Josh Brady, director of the Department of Mining and Industrial Extension, said.

“Erik Muendel, RTM’s founder, has been a huge advocate for our mine rescue teams, and the support from the Fish Fry has continued to grow each year, allowing us to maintain the highest program standards. We greatly appreciate Coach Huggins and Erik.”

The Fish Fry was made possible thanks to dozens of sponsors, including top-level sponsors Little General Stores, Kenneth Mason, WVU Medicine, Applied Construction Solutions, the Assaley Feck Harold Group at Morgan Stanley, Guard Unit LLC, the Hayhurst Family, Ike and Betty Sue Morris, and Joe and Lisa Subrick.

To support the Norma Mae Huggins Endowment and/or the WVU Cancer Institute, visit for more information. 

All gifts are made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University and its affiliated entities.

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