October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it is no longer just women's athletics sporting the "Think Pink" initiative.
Tune into any NFL football game this month, and you'll see the league's Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign being worn loud and clear on some of the sport's biggest stars.
Pink cleats, gloves, helmet decals, and other gear grace the feet, hands, wrists and heads of idols like Ben Roethlisberger, LaDainian Tomlinson and Tom Brady.
In the old days, it would have been hard to imagine pink padding on the goal posts and pink ribbons painted on the turf of legendary NFL battlegrouds like Lambeau Field. Nevertheless, here they are, for all of the nation and the world to see.
In many ways, the NFL is the last bastion of male dominance, but this high-profile initiative is important to the men of the National Football League, as it should be to all men. Why? Because they have mothers, wives and daughters.
Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald lost his own mother to breast cancer while in college at the University of Pittsburgh. Now he is serving as one of the NFL's national spokespersons for the Crucial Catch campaign, reminding people of the importance of annual screenings.
Brett Favre's wife has been an advocate since being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Their Deanna Favre Hope Foundation provides financial aid to breast cancer patients. The list goes on and on.
Most of us, including NFL players and coaches, know someone whose life has been touched by the disease, giving us all personal reasons to join the fight. The sports world is catching on big time.
Locally, the Penn State women's basketball team was one of the first programs to sponsor an all-out "Think Pink" day, as the Bryce Jordan center was flooded with pink-clad fans. Now, similar events are popping up on pink fields and courts all over campuses around the country.
In Cresson, Mount Aloysius coed Amanda Pribulsky is hosting a Pink Out Volleyball Game tonight as the Mounties host UPJ. Proceeds from T-shirt sales and canning will benefit the Central Pennsylvania Making Strides campaign. She does it for her grandmother, a three-year breast cancer survivor.
This Saturday in Hollidaysburg is the 10th Annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, which promises to be a celebration of another record-breaking fundraising effort.
Among those walking will be patients battling cancer, and those who have survived cancer. There will be walkers remembering someone who has lost their battle, and those who are there to support their family and friends. The three-mile walk reflects the powerful journey so many families have taken in the shadow of this disease.
The efforts to fight breast cancer locally and nationally are now championed by so many, including the NFL, that the campaign has become much more than inspirational. It's just plain cool.
Kellie Goodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.