Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Great Guys Group

Posted by Ron Opher On April 28

The next organization to be spotlighted in our Philly Sports Philanthropy series is the cancer support organization, Great Guys Group – which, with the help of Big 5 coaches and others – puts a full-court press on cancer.

Great Guys Group was founded in 2002 at the suggestion of the late Nicole Isenberg (pictured at left with her children) as a way of hosting an event to reconnect with friends while raising money for local cancer organizations. Nicole’s battle with cancer (stage IV Hodgkin’s disease diagnosed in 1997) ended in August 2003 – but on Wednesday May 4th, 2011, many Great Guys and Great Gals from around the area will take part in the 10th annual Great Guys Dinner as a tribute to Nicole’s memory, to her idea and to the many others in our community who have been affected by cancer.

One way Great Guys Group is unique is that the funds raised benefit not only large-scale area initiatives like outfitting the kitchen at Hope Lodge at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, furnishing the outpatient cancer center at Paoli Memorial Hospital and a consultation room at A.I. Dupont Children’s Hospital, but that Great Guys Group also “brings hope home” by furnishing funds to pay for primary needs such as mortgage/rent and utility bills, car payments and health insurance for families affected by cancer.

Another unique feature is Great Guys Group’s close connection to area men’s college basketball coaches, and its common support of Coaches vs. Cancer, which sprang from former University of Missouri head coach and cancer survivor Norm Stewart’s challenge to fans to pledge a dollar for every 3-point shot his team made to help fight cancer. In 1993, the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches got involved in this unifying mission, even as the coaches and their players waged battles on the basketball court. In 1998, a national council was formed, on which Temple head coach Fran Dunphy and St. Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli currently serve. Dunphy is a prior chair, and Martelli is about to assume the role of chair, a post currently held by Maryland head coach Gary Williams.

Martelli had this to say: “The Great Guys Dinner has stood out to me since I first attended – both in terms of the number of area coaches attending and the great feeling of camaraderie at the event. We have deepened the relationship between Coaches vs. Cancer and Great Guys Group with their pledge to assist our top priority project at Hope Lodge, which is free of charge to utilize for area cancer patients and a caregiver.

The Great Guys Group is a great example of the closeness of the Philadelphia community and the extraordinary willingness of people to help.”

Dunphy added “if you decide to come to the dinner, you’re going to walk away a better human being, because you’ve done something for somebody else.

(hear more from Fran Dunphy)


Paul Isenberg, Nicole’s husband, along with co-founder Tim Sherry, brought together 100 Great Guys at the first dinner, and raised $13,000 for the American Cancer Society. After raising over a half a million dollars cumulatively solely for the benefit of American Cancer Society, in 2008 Great Guys Group decided to stand as its own 501(c)(3) charity, as a result of encountering individual families in need and desiring to expand its mission to provide direct financial assistance to those families.

(hear what Paul Isenberg had to say about the program and its growth)

The 10th annual Great Guys Dinner will take place on Wednesday May 4, 2011, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in King of Prussia, from 6:00pm-9:00pm. There will be great food, drink and entertainment, as well as a silent and live auction – highlighted by an opportunity to bid on a Villanova Big East basketball road trip, complete with charter jet service for up to 4 people and also 3 Diamond Club seats to a Phillies game where the winning bidder will be joined by Phil Martelli.

(hear Paul Isenberg describe a bit about what the night is like)

(hear more from Phil Martelli about what the winning bidder on the “Phillies with Phil” Diamond Club package can expect)

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  1. Philly sports philanthropy - Chronological list & links | Philly Phanatics - THE online community for Philly sports fanatics Says:

    […] Great Guys Group’s full-court press on cancer (4/28/11) […]

    Posted on April 28th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

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