BY MATT MERKEL
Franciscan’s Lady Barons Volleyball team hosted their fifth annual Dig Pink volleyball match during Homecoming weekend on Oct. 5. Dig Pink is a fundraiser created by the Side-Out Foundation that raises money for breast cancer research. Franciscan participated in the event during their homecoming match against the Pitt.-Bradford Panthers. While the Lady Barons won 3-1 and boosted their conference record to 3-1, something bigger was witnessed by over 400 people in attendance.
The crowd was treated to an amazing display of leadership and awareness by the young Franciscan roster who wanted to do the fundraiser to help not only those suffering with breast cancer but also ethically help progress the science to avoid future women and men from having to battle cancer.
“I had many people come up to me after the match to congratulate me and our girls for our efforts,” Head Coach Kelly Herrmann said. “Some had had breast cancer multiple times and were so proud of our efforts.”
The Side-Out Foundation is a national breast cancer research facility in Virginia that was established in 2004 to unite volleyball players and coaches toward furthering breast cancer awareness, education and patient services. Their mission is support services that make a difference in the lives of breast cancer patients and their families by supporting clinical trials and increasing education.
Franciscan has done their part every year to help by hosting the Dig Pink fundraiser. All fans were asked to donate money to the initiative. The Kuzma Court was packed with students and their families watching the game. Pink Shirts were sold to help fundraising and many fans pledged 5 cents for every dig on the court. There were over 200 digs by the end of the match.
The money goes directly to an amazing cause and the effects are seen immediately. In fact just this summer, Side-Out was able to utilize last years Dig Pink efforts to fund an experiment that is leading the way in personalized medicine and targeted therapy.
“The idea is to turn the tables against cancer by using molecular profiling,” Nicholas Robert, study co-author and oncologist said. “Some patients had up to four to six months of progression-free survival.”
Those kinds of studies give tangible results to the mission that Franciscan tries to instill in their athletes in every sport. The game is a catalyst for improving the world.
Franciscan also gave some of their fundraising profits locally to the TEAR foundation hosted by the Tony Teramana Cancer Center. The funds provide modest emergency assistance to individuals diagnosed with cancer in the area in hopes of lessening the burden assisted with the treatment.
The Lady Barons displayed leadership and courage to help support a bigger opponent than they will ever face on the court, and at the end of the day, that’s exactly what Coach Herrmann wants for her girls when they graduate.