Investment made by UNC’s Hatchell pays off in fight against cancer

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – While the seats sit empty at Carmichael Arena at UNC, women’s baksetball coach Sylvia Hatchell spends time at her cabin in the North Carolina mountains.

She bought the land in 2000 and had no idea what was coming along with it.

“It was all by chance,” Hatchell said.

With the land came a blueberry farm.

Starting in 2001, the community could pick what they wanted, but was asked to send donations to the Lineberger Cancer Center.

“I had no idea at the time that the results would be what it’s been,” Hatchell said.

Thousands of dollars in donations rolled in.

Fast forward to 2013 – Hatchell received devastating news.

“I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia,” Hatchell said.

Hatchell noticed one problem while she spent several months at the Lineberger Cancer Center.

“There was nowhere to exercise,” she said.

Once she was cancer free, she knew what to do with those donations from the blueberry farm.

“We need a place for people to exercise,” Hatchell said. “We’ve got to get them out of the bed. We’ve got to get them exercising if they want to get well.”

Soon, the cancer center will have two workout rooms with bikes, treadmills, free weights and more.

“A place where you walk in, you feel better, you exercise and you do feel better,” she said.

One of the workout rooms is themed with blueberries.

“You give without expecting to get something in return, but you never know when it’s going to come back to you,” Hatchell said. “It’s definitely come back and been a tremendous blessing to me.”

A chapter in Hatchell’s life that has come full circle.

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