When Chapel Hill native Burke Whitaker was undergoing chemotherapy treatment in 2020, one of the few things that would cheer him up was playing basketball.
Well, 'PIG' that is.
The shooting game 'PIG' was a compromise between Burke and his mom, Libby Whitaker. The game is a streamlined version of 'HORSE,' where players only have to outshoot their opponents three times to spell P-I-G, which allowed the duo to play more frequently. Two years later, following Burke’s death in January 2022, his family is keeping his memory alive and giving back to the community via the same thing — 'PIG.'
“When you have a child that dies, the first thing is you’re determined to make sure everyone remembers that child and thinks about that child as much as you do,” Libby said.
In memory of Burke, his family created The Burke Whitaker PIG Tournament. On Sept. 30, The Farm, a UNC faculty-staff recreation association, will host the second annual tournament. This year, the tournament is partnering with Me Fine, an organization that works to provide support to North Carolina families struggling to afford medical care for children experiencing a health crisis.
"My priority is still, everyone come out and have a great time and have a wonderful day," Libby said, "and do a little good on the side."
'He was trying to keep being a normal college student'
In September 2019, Burke entered into his sophomore year at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Just a couple of weeks into his classes, his mother received a call from the university's medical center informing her that Burke had a seizure.
Doctors soon discovered he had a low-grade astrocytoma — otherwise known as a cancerous brain tumor — causing Burke to move back home to Chapel Hill to receive treatment at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke.