‘Beacon of hope’: Cure Bowl, March 2Cure return to Orlando this weekend -- this time at UCF

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Cure Bowl is a long-standing football tradition in Orlando. And this year, it has a new home.


The Avocados from Mexico Cure Bowl will be held on Saturday at FBC Mortgage Stadium at the University of Central Florida, also known as the “Bounce House.”

Camping World Stadium was the bowl’s original home. And it was played at Exploria Stadium last year.

Each year, sponsors change, but one thing remains a constant -- a passion for the fight against breast cancer.

Deborah Hausman -- a Cure Bowl ambassador and chair of the March 2Cure event -- said that out of the 41 bowl games nationwide in 2023, this is the only one that is purpose-driven. In this case, they’re helping to fund breast cancer research.

But it’s not just about the money raised, it’s also about hearing the stories of survivors.

“I almost get emotional every single time because I get so thrilled that someone is actually taking the time to acknowledge all the survivors and all these people that are fighting,” she said.

Read: Central Florida breast cancer survivor & patient advocate pushes for change

This year’s matchup will be the first time the stadium has hosted a NCAA-sanctioned bowl game, and Hausman said the UCF community is feeling the excitement.

The March 2Cure parade, which takes place right before the game, will also be a different experience with it being on a university campus.

“I really do hope that we pull some students and some of the local families and the alumni to come to the game because that really helps,” Hausman said.

Community leaders and local public figures will lead the walk, starting at Burger U on East Plaza Drive and ending at the stadium.

The teams’ mascots, cheerleaders and bands will follow, along with breast cancer survivors.

A flag with participating survivor’s signatures will be carried during the march.

Read: Going bowling: College Bowl Games have been selected; Here’s your Florida guide

Hausman said a record number of survivors have registered to participate in the march. In planning for the event, she listened to what the survivors wanted to do and worked diligently to make it possible.

“I’m inviting the family members to walk with the survivors in that parade, so it’ll be even more emotional,” she said. “I also think that the survivors need that support of their family, and they want that support.”

Survivors are at the heart of the game. Hausman has worked all year to continue having them be a part of it. She got approval to have survivors back on the field.

“We need to be that beacon of hope for them,” she said.

There will be a specific section set aside for survivors who register.

After the first quarter, there will be an announcement for them to stand together on the field, and they will be acknowledged.

“That was my whole initial purpose for bringing them on the field is to say, ‘Look, we survived. We can do it. You can do it, too,’” Hausman said.

Hausman hopes that the new location in the heart of a university campus can help raise awareness closer to home about a once-taboo subject.

Stories from a player on each team with connections to breast cancer will be shared during the game.

Other stories that Hausman has heard of include a firefighter and his sons who lost his wife to breast cancer after a seven-year battle, a woman completely free of cancer, those no longer in remission and even male breast cancer survivors.

As an ambassador for the Cure Bowl, Hausman interacts with many breast cancer patients, survivors and advocates. She said she is a dedicated patient advocate and breast cancer survivor herself, which has helped fuel her involvement.

She said she builds a personal relationship with the survivors, listens to their stories and answers their questions, and will even have the chance to meet some of them in person Saturday.

Read: ‘Don’t wait’: Local woman shares what she’s learned after multiple breast cancer diagnoses

Tickets to the game will benefit breast cancer research projects being conducted by the UCF College of Medicine.

Hausman said it feels great knowing that funding will help create opportunities for more research.

“We’re laser-focused on cancer research at the Cure Bowl because it affects so many lives,” she said.

Hausman said her ultimate goal is to fill up a stadium one day and make progress in eradicating the disease at the same time. She wants people to have a good time and realize how much it means to the cause.

“We just need people to show up,” Hausman said. “And the funding from every single seat that we sell is the money that goes to cancer research and the cancer research at UCF College of Medicine…this is a win-win.”

The Miami Redhawks and the Appalachian State Mountaineers will face off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. You can watch the game live on Channel 9 if you can’t attend the game.

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