With the emphasis on community involvement and health, the University of Central Arkansas will have special promotions during the basketball teamns’ homestand this week.

The Bears and Sugar Bears will play Southland Conference doubleheaders Thursday night against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Saturday afternoon against Sam Houston State.

Thursday night, UCA Sugar Bear coach Sandra Rushing and Bear coach Corliss Williamson will be coaching barefoot to illuminate "Samaritan’s Feet," an international program to provide shoes to needy children that UCA teams and athletic staff have adopted as a special project.

Saturday’s game against Sam Houston State will be the Sugar Bears PinkZone game, a part of a wider promotion by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association of America, to raise cancer awareness. As part of that, Conway Regional Hospital will host a health fair before the game.

Thursday night, fans will have a chance to enter a drawing for a 75th Anniversary of March Madness basketball, autographed by Williamson, the MVP of the 1994 championship tournament.

The drawing for the basketball will be at halftime of the men’s game. Five numbers will be drawn. The first will be for the basketball and the other four winners will receive an autographed wristband and a Bears Basketball Nike Dri-fit T-shirt.

Spectators will be able to buy the wristbands ($10 each ) from 4:30 p.m. (when the doors open) until five minutes before the end of the first half in the men’s game.

The $10 for the wristband buys one pair of shoes for a needy child under the Samaritan’s Feet program. UCA athletes and coaches will be conducting a shoe distribution in Conway in the spring of 2014. The money raised Thursday night will be combined with the money from the recent pancake breakfast, sponsored by the UCA Student Athlete Advistory committee.

UCA officials plan other fundraising events before next spring with several other coaches coaching barefoot during selected games.

Games Thursday are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, the PinkZone promotion will begin at 1:30 p.m. with a cancer health fair sponsored by Conway Regional prior to the Sugar Bears’ 2 p.m. basketball game with activities continuing through the start of the men’s game at 4:30 p.m.

UCA will again designate proceeds from the PinkZone game against Sam Houston State to cancer programs at Conway Regional Health System. For the past few years, UCA has been participating in an international initiative of the WBCA to raise cancer awareness across college campuses and in communities throughout the country.

The UCA Sugar Bears will wear pink uniforms during the game against the Lady Bearkats.

Other activities will include:

A shootout between the UCA athletic staff and Conway Regional leaders at halftime of the women’s basketball game.

Pink and Jeans Day will be held on Friday, Feb.15 at Conway Regional with participants being asked to donate $5 to the cause.

"This donation will go toward supporting patients and families facing cancer through the cancer programs at Conway Regional," said Marla Hambuchen of the Conway Regional Health Foundation. "Prevention and early detection are critical in the fight against cancer."

Bear Paw Honor/Memorial cards will be sold for $1 at the game and in advance at the Conway locations of ARVEST Bank, National Bank of Arkansas at Harkrider and Oak Streets and Conway Regional Medical Center. The Bear Paw cards will be on display in the lobby of the Farris Center during PinkZone promotion.

(David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or