JB Smash Cancer

Event in Memory of Jonathan Bankhead Closes in on $100,000 Mark

Submitted by: Sheryl McAlister

The 3rd Jonathan Bankhead Memorial Smash Cancer event is closing in on a three-year mark of $100,000 – all donated to SCOA Cares Foundation in Jonathan’s memory. The foundation provides assistance to those cancer patients undergoing treatment at SCOA, the only comprehensive cancer treatment center in the state.

The tennis tournament was started in 2021 and planned as an annual event in memory of Jonathan Bankhead, who lost his life to glioblastoma in 2020. Jonathan was a patient at SCOA. Money raised in Jonathan’s memory is used in the form of unrestricted grants to assist patients and their families who are suffering from cancer’s devastating effects.

The event was conceived before Jonathan died when he and two friends – Brian Reeves and Bonner Roche – discussed the idea. Jonathan, an avid tennis player, warmed to the idea when he stipulated that the money not go to his own family. Vanessa McAlister Bankhead, Jonathan’s widow, asked that the funds stay in South Carolina and be used to help patients and families who didn’t have a strong support system. SCOA Cares Foundation provided that link and direct contact with patient and caregiver needs.

Entering its 3rd year – the tourney was not held in 2023 because of scheduling conflicts — this event is expected to surpass the $100,000 milestone before the tournament begins. All funds – 100 percent – raised from donations and sponsorships are given to SCOA Cares.

The tournament, which draws hundreds of people into Columbia each year, is underwritten by player registration fees and a generous grant from the City of Forest Acres. It is the largest tennis event in Columbia and one of the largest in South Carolina.

The 2024 event, scheduled for April 26-28 at Rockbridge, is organized by a volunteer tournament committee. Reeves, Director of Tennis at Rockbridge, is tournament director. Traditionally, more than 250 players and hundreds of spectators participate throughout the weekend. Where possible, Forest Acres business owners are used as vendors.

The 2024 committee includes Reeves, Roche as well as other founding members Sheryl McAlister, Helen Russell, John Misenheimer and Eugenia Hardwick. Others serving on the 2024 event committee include Eric Tappa, Justin Peterson, Steven Powell and Caroline Connaire.

This year’s event honors all cancer survivors, including Svetlana Henderson, Lindsay Kemp, Marsi McAlister and Janice Misenheimer.

If you are interested in playing, sponsoring or donating, contact any committee member or: