In an effort to raise awareness about breast cancer, the student-athletes at St. Edmund Prep H.S., Sheepshead Bay, took part in a series of events throughout October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
According to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death – after lung cancer – among women in the city.
Each year, more than 1,000 women in New York City die from breast cancer, which can have no signs or symptoms. Early detection, however, can save lives.
For the second straight year, the school’s junior varsity and varsity girls’ volleyball teams hosted St. John’s Prep, Astoria, in a “Dig Pink” doubleheader on Oct. 19 to support breast cancer research.
“Many of my players have someone who was affected by breast cancer,” said Kathleen O’Neill, head coach of both the Eagles teams as well as the head women’s volleyball coach at St. Joseph’s College Brooklyn.
“It’s something the girls can actually connect with and have meaning behind.”
“I feel like everyone on the team has been affected by it in some way,” said Juliana Moule, a sophomore setter on the JV. “It’s special for us to be able to raise awareness and money for it.”
Breast Cancer Ambassador
The efforts were primarily led by Stephanie Cacace, a senior right-side hitter on the varsity squad. Her mother, Jennie Cacace, is a breast cancer survivor.
“I do this for her, and I hope to make a change for other families that have had to go through what my family went through,” Stephanie said.
Last year, the volleyball program raised more than $2,000 for the Side-Out Foundation, which partners with volleyball teams to inspire science and hope in the match against the disease. The organization awarded a scholarship to Cacace as part of its Ambassador Program.
“She’s (Cacace) been amazing,” O’Neill said. “Last year she got it off the ground. Based on what she did, she wanted to take it even further this year. She wrote letters to politicians, set up bake sales and days within the school. She’s really stepped it up to a higher level.”
During the “Dig Pink” matches, the St. Edmund’s teams wore special pink jerseys, sponsored by the school’s cafeteria vendor, that is also the cafeteria vendor at St. John’s Prep. All proceeds from raffles, baked goods and T-shirts sold throughout the day helped to support the cause. This year’s donation will total more than $2,500.
“When it means a lot to one girl, it means a lot to all of us,” Cacace said. “We’re a family here at St. Edmund’s, and especially on our teams we’re very close, and we really just want to make a difference and make an impact on the breast cancer community as a whole.”
In addition to the volleyball teams, the other girls’ teams at St. Edmund’s each took part in their own breast cancer-related event.
The school’s cheerleaders and step teams participated in the annual Breast Cancer Walk Oct. 15 in Prospect Park. Those teams also sold pink ribbons around the school throughout October.
On Oct. 17, the school’s homecoming event, EagleFest, took place at Aviator Sports Complex. In between the girls’ and boys’ soccer games as part of “Kick for the Cure,” students, parents and alumni made donations to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for a chance to take penalty kicks against various faculty members, including co-athletic directors Dan Wiatre and Jim Grillo.
Rounding out the events on Oct. 27, a student vs. faculty volleyball fundraising match was held, with all the school’s girls’ sports teams participating.
With these efforts, St. Edmund’s continues to be a local leader in the fight against breast cancer. Every little bit counts to someday finding a cure. In the meantime, the Eagles are doing their part to raise awareness of a disease that can be cured if caught early.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.