- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 18, 2009

Following a recent game, Alex Chambers interviewed Sacramento’s Courtney Paris in the locker room. But after about five minutes, the 35-year-old special education teacher from Phoenix realized the camera wasn’t recording, so he stopped the interview and started over.

“It was a rather interesting and comical moment,” Chambers said. “It was a great interview that nobody will ever see.”

To Chambers, it was another memorable moment in his monthlong mission to visit all 13 WNBA arenas. However, his expedition is not all about fun and games. The trip, titled “13 Teams, 1 Journey,” is an attempt to raise awareness about breast cancer.

In April 2008, Chambers lost a close friend, Cyndee Luque, to the disease. “13 Teams, 1 Journey” is a trip dedicated to her memory.

“The WNBA has been putting extra effort into breast cancer awareness and research,” Chambers said. “Dedicating the trip in Cyndee’s memory was fitting.”

On June 21, Chambers began his journey watching his favorite team, the Phoenix Mercury. Chambers began attending Mercury games in 2006 after receiving season tickets as a graduation gift.

The WNBA gave Chambers media credentials to enter locker rooms at all 13 arenas. He described the experience of meeting his favorite players as “surreal.”

“It’s not a spot you ever think you are going to get to,” he said. “But I’ve been getting used to it.”

On Saturday, Chambers will visit Verizon Center to watch the Washington Mystics face the New York Liberty, a stop that has special significance for him. Luque’s sister, who discovered Chambers on Facebook, will join him in the stands. They are meeting for the first time.

Before and after games, Chambers conducts interviews with players. He has gained familiarity on the Internet by posting the videos on YouTube. His Twitter page, “13teams1journey,” has attracted hundreds of followers.

Chambers said the media attention he receives is mostly positive but that he has encountered some doubters.

“It’s nice when I get to talk to media people that are really interested in my story,” Chambers said. “I have talked to a few reporters who don’t seem to want to believe my story: ‘Are you really a WNBA fan?’ ”

Chambers uses the attention to promote his goal: raising awareness of the disease that took his friend’s life. For years, the WNBA has done the same thing. Each year, every team dedicates one game to breast cancer survivors. Last season, teams wore special uniforms with pink trim. After the game, the uniforms were auctioned off, and the money was donated to breast cancer research.

On July 25, Chambers will conclude his journey at the All-Star Game in Uncasville, Conn. Though the 13-city tour has been tiring, Chambers said he finds it rewarding.

“It’s been hectic, but I’m the kind of person who likes to stay busy,” he said. “It’s more motivation to keep going.”

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