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Day of Giving

Friday, September 11, 2020


Big Bill's New York Pizza


County Line and Holly

Centennial, Colorado 


From 10 a.m. opening to flexible closing.

ALL proceeds to the JoAnn B. Ficke Cancer Foundation.  



Contributions also can be dropped off or made without going to the restaurant. See below.




Not too late to contribute to 2019 Day of Giving. See below.

Early returns: 2019 Pictures. Early total was $130,000.

BigBills2019b.jpg BigBills2019k.jpg

                                                    Big Bill with Rocky 



Honors JoAnn B. Ficke, plus 9/11 victims and responders.
Read JoAnn and Bill's story below. 
Here are the figures for 2018.


Dan and Bill Ficke at 2016 Day of Giving. Dan, the president of the
JoAnn B. Ficke Cancer Foundation, was a long-time assistant men's
basketball coach at the University of Denver before being named head
coach at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., in July 2019.  

July 20, 2019

Denver's own Dan Ficke

named head hoops coach

at Belmont Abbey


Dan Ficke at Belmont Abbey 


The Ficke family has gone full circle at Belmont Abbey College,

just west of Charlotte.


The Crusaders -- a Division II program playing in the Conference

Carolinas -- named Denver's own Dan Ficke, 32, their new head men's

basketball coach, succeeding Billy Taylor, who left to become an

assistant coach at Iowa.


Dan's father, Bill Ficke, proprietor of Big Bill's New York Pizza

in Centennial, is an iconic figure in the Colorado sports community --

and beyond. Bill knows everyone and everyone knows Bill. And it's

not only because he's a former Nuggets assistant coach. His 9/11

"Day of Giving" at Big Bill's, with free food for voluntary contribiutions

to the JoAnn B. Ficke Cancer Foundation, annually raises six figures

for Colorado cancer organizations and his heart is huge.


In 2007, JoAnn and Bill's son, Dan, then playing for Loyola (Maryland),

delivered his mom's eulogy and there wasn't a dry eye in the church.


We felt, and still feel, as if we have watched Dan grow up, including

at Regis Jesuit and Loyola and beyond.


So now we have all the more reason to be proud.


Dan's hiring at Belmont Abbey hire has been in the loop for several

weeks, but Dan arrived at Belmont midweek and the official

announcement came Thursday. 


Before his collegiate career at Loyola, Dan played at Aurora's

Regis Jesuit.


Most recently, he has been an assistant for four seasons at the

University of Denver, under Joe Scott and Rodney Billups.


Prior to DU, Dan worked in the programs at Wake Forest and



Big Bill not only played at Belmont Abbey, he played there

under legendary coach Al McGuire, whose first head coaching

job was there from 1957-64. Bill already was ticketed for fall

induction into the school's Hall of Fame. 


So this is a Ficke family return to the school. 


"It's hard to put into words how incredibly blessed I feel to

have that opportunity," Dan told me from Belmont on Saturday.

"My dad is probably, outside of my wife, my best friend and

he's definitely my role model. I've walked in his very large

footsteps for a very long time. So to be able to go back there

to the school where he played and has such great memories of,

it means everything for my first head coaching position to be

at the place where he played college basketball. It seems like

a divine intervention to be there."     


Bill was ecstatic. 


"Next to the day I got married to my wonderful wife, and

then when my son was born, and then when I saw him become a

father, I'd have to say it's all right up there," Bill told me. "Whoever

thought 57 years later, there'd be a Ficke with the basketball team at

Belmont Abbey? . . . The best thing that happened to Dan was his first

job was with Jeff Bzdelik at Wake Forest, and Jeff laid the foundation

for his work ethic and knowledge of basketball. He really worked with

Dan and helped him grow."


Dan also is the president of the JoAnn B. Ficke Cancer Foundation.

The Day of Giving, a salute of 9/11 victims and first responders, predates

JoAnn's 2007 death and subsequent formation of the foundation, and has

raised $1.2 million overall.      


Dan and his wife, Jordan, have 20-month-old twins, William Winslow

and Sloane Smith.  


Belmont Abbey athletic director Stephen Miss announced Dan's hiring.

Dan had interviewed for the job when Taylor was hired in 2016, so he

was in the Crusaders' memory bank when the job opened again. 


The Crusaders were 23-8 overall and 14-4 in league play last season,

finishing second to Emmanuel. So the cupboard won't be bare.


"During what was a thorough and comprehensive national search,

Dan Ficke emerged as the right individual at this time to lead Belmont

Abbey College's men's basketball program," Miss said. "In addition to

having benefited from playing for and working with many exceptional

coaches, Coach Ficke articulated repeatedly during the interview process

an appreciation of and conviction in our mission that positions him well

to form and develop our students as they endeavor individually and

collectively to realize their full potential: body, mind, and soul."


The fact that Dan played both high school and college basketball at

Catholic schools was a plus for him in the selection process. Dan also

can benefit from Bill's and his own connections in the coaching fraternity,

and in the recruiting networks. Plus, some of Bill's former teammates

are supporters of the program.   


"Back in December of January, I can't remember when it was, the

president of the university came out and told me they were going to

put me in the Belmont Abbey Hall of Fame," Bill said. "That's going

to happen on October 12. So I said, 'Great 2019's my year.'"


He laughed and added, "Now I've been upstaged by my son."     


When Dan was playing at Loyola, his teammates labeled frequent

visitor Bill as "Thornton Mellon,'" after the Rodney Dangerfield character

in "Back to School." Ever since, I've pictured Bill on the Tonight Show

couch, tagging on his tie and lamenting, "I tell 'ya, Johnny, I don't get

no respect. No respect at all."


On Saturday, Bill joked, "I'm going back to school," then added: "No,

I figure about once a month I'll go out and see him and the grandkids.

During the season, I'll go when there's two or three games in close

proximity and see him coach."


UPDATE: Bill indeed was inducted into the Belmont Abbey College

Hall of Fame on October 12. Here are pictures from that occasion.  


Alex English, Big Bill, Bobby Jones, Larry Brown, T.R. Dunn 
Jordan Ficke, Big Bill, Dan Ficke 
Big Bill with his Belmont Abbey teammates 
Big Bill with Dan and some of the friends to traveled to Belmont to see his induction. 


More about the JoAnn B. Ficke Cancer Foundation,

including how to contribute without attending

the Day of Giving. (Or keep scrolling down.)




Big Bill Ficke's annual tribute to 9/11 victims and JoAnn B. Ficke 

 (Years ago, I wrote this piece to tell Bill and JoAnn's story.)

 After his Air Force stint, young New Yorker Bill Ficke landed a job at
Allstate Insurance's headquarters in White Plains, New York.
"I saw this gorgeous redhead," he recalled the other day.
"I worked in the back of the building and she worked upstairs. I kept
seeing her walking through and going upstairs to her desk. I found
out where her desk was, and she was in claims. So I started to go
by and bring her candy and say, 'Hi, how are you?'"
JoAnn Bury would say thank you. But after this went on for a while,
she politely said, "Let me ask you something. What is your job here?"
Responded Bill Ficke: "I'm the manager in charge of morale. It's my
job to go and make sure all the employees are happy."
"Oh," said JoAnn.
One day, Bill told JoAnn he had some pull on concert and sports tickets,
so if she ever needed any...
Finally, she asked if he could get a couple of James Taylor tickets for her
brother. He came through.
Then he got up enough nerve to ask if she wanted to go to the
Knicks-Celtics game.
"Who?" she asked. "You ... and me?"
Yes, said Bill. Okay, said JoAnn.
Next, they went to a Blood, Sweat, and Tears concert.
They were married September 15, 1973.
In 1975, Bill explored landing a franchise for an athletic footwear store.
He decided that if he did it, it needed to be somewhere other than New York.
After scouting around, he decided the place to go was Denver. At first,
he was disappointed that the chain he was looking at had decided to go into
Buckingham Square, with another owner already lined up. Ultimately,
his contacts and friends told him he should consider going into another
new mall, the Aurora Mall, with his own, non-franchise store. He rejected
the suggestion that he call it Ficke's Feet and settled on Fleet Feet, scrambled,
and nervously opened the store. He and JoAnn, of course, moved to
Denver, and she transferred to the Allstate office in the Denver Tech Center.
She desperately missed her family, back in upstate New York, but her
siblings eventually moved to Denver, too.
"She would work at Allstate until 6 or 6:30, come over, and help me
close the shop," Bill said. "That was our life for two or three years.
Then business got going and we were able to hire people."
Today, Bill laughs about his business naivete at the time, including
the fact that when mall proprietors asked him if he wanted a 10-
or 15-year lease, he not only didn't say it needed to be shorter than that,
he said what the heck, sign him up for 15 years. As it turned out,
that was his salvation, because his rent was far, far lower than the
going rate in later years. The sale of Orange Crush T-shirts during the
Broncos' first Super Bowl run was a jumpstart, too. Fleet Feet
stores also ended up in downtown Denver and in the Westminster Mall.
Bill served a one-season stint with the Nuggets as an assistant
coach to Doug Moe and also did some NBA scouting, and his circle
of friends in the sports world kept widening.
Dan, JoAnn and Bill's son, was born in October 1986. JoAnn continued
to work. Bill eventually sold Fleet Feet and opened Big Bill's New York Pizza.
At Allstate, JoAnn continued to work in claims. Because of his flexible
restaurant hours, Bill worked it so he could be with Dan in late afternoons
and served on various committees at his school. 
In 1994, JoAnn had felt something on her neck. Tests showed it was cancer.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
She and Bill were told it was in its early stages and her prognosis was uncertain,
but not immediately dire.
"She asked, 'Am I going to be here for my son's graduation?'" Bill said. "The doctor
said, 'You're going to be here for a long time. I have patients who have lived with
this thing for 25 years.'"
Initially, she continued to work, even traveling to Chicago on a temporary assignment
for several months each Monday and undergoing chemotherapy at the Rocky Mountain
Cancer Center on weekends. Her initial round of treatment lasted two and a half years
before the cancer was deemed to be in remission.
Reluctantly, because she liked her job and the people she worked with, JoAnn did take a
medical retirement from Allstate. Dan was in the fifth grade. JoAnn became a stay-at-home
mother, except for her treatments.
She rode the emotional roller-coaster of treatment, apparent remission, and more
treatment for 13 years, including a stem cell transplant in late 2006. I've seen a
letter from her main nurse in her later treatment at the Rocky Mountain Cancer
Center. In it, Megan Andersen says:
"JoAnn was a delightful patient. Although she had a life-threatening illness, her
concerns were always directed toward others. When she came into the office,
she knew all of the staff members by name, and spent most of her visit asking
each individual how they were doing and what they had been doing in their life.
She was genuinely concerned for the welfare of others and although she was
the person with the illness, she was always far more concerned about the health
and happiness of those around her. Additionally, her love of family was intense.
She was often seen in the clinic with other family members, including her sister,
brother, father and husband. She cared for them and put her family members
before her own needs and it was obvious how much they loved and depended on her."  
She was able to attend Dan's graduation from Regis High School. She
got to see him play basketball for Loyola of Maryland, including in New York.
She traveled to Ireland with her family and took what turned out to be a final
trip to upstate New York to be with her father.
She passed away in February 2007.
The JoAnn B. Ficke Cancer Foundation honors her.
(Below: The flyer for the 2016 Day of Giving.)