IT HAS nudged its way into one of the most anticipated happenings in the Ohio Valley.

The annual Cancer Research Classic Basketball Showcase is more than just a high school basketball tournament, much more. The CRC has blossomed into a major player in tri-state circles.

The basketball extravaganza is the brainchild of Wheeling Hospital’s Dr. Gregory Merrick. Through his passionate nurturing, the two-day hoopfest has grown into a national-caliber event, even drawing the interest from sports media heavyweight ESPN.

But the CRC goes beyond the hardwood.

It also provides a powerful shot-in-the arm to the local economy. That impact is felt especially strong in Wheeling. So much so, Andy McKenzie, mayor of the Friendly City, presented Dr. Merrick a check this week for $2,500 to aid with the CRC’s operating budget.

McKenzie knows a good thing when he sees one.

He realizes the $2,500 is a small price to pay for all the benefits his city and the entire area receives from the event, noting that, “It is the most exposure in any one weekend that we generate in a whole year. It’s really important for the economic future and also the immediate impact it makes of people eating and sleeping in our community.”

In addition to the top-shelf basketball and the economic benefits, the CRC’s main thrust is one close to Dr. Merrick’s heart. That being promoting healthy lifestyles and cancer detection.

Dr. Merrick is one of the nation’s foremost authorities in the men’s cancer field. The CRC provides him an ideal forum to promote his life-saving cause.

Wheeling Hospital and the Schiffler Cancer Center of Wheeling Hospital will have information tables and screenings available at the Wheeling Jesuit University-based spectacle.

The CRC will play out Jan. 4 & 5. Nine games will be contested during the course of those two days.

We encourage everyone to embrace and support the CRC. It has pumped life into the Ohio Valley while also working to help save lives.