October is in full swing, and it's great to once again see the NFL's players, coaches, and officials decked out in their pink for breast cancer awareness month.
Throughout the year, sports teams, including the Penn State women's basketball team hold "Think Pink" events, raising money and awareness to fight a disease that seems to touch the lives of all of us in one way or another.
However, the impact may be even greater when you see arguably the toughest athletes in the world, competing on perhaps the last bastion of male dominance, the NFL gridiron, sporting their pink gloves, shoestrings, whistles, cleats and towels for this worthy cause.
With the NFL becoming more and more popular among women sports fans, it seems only appropriate that the league would embrace the battle against breast cancer. But individual players also seem to be taking the message personally, probably because they have their own mothers, sisters, wives and daughters.
Football players do battle every Sunday, but those fights can't compare for the battle waged by breast cancer victims. And it's not just the individual patient who is affected; breast cancer has a devastating impact on the entire family. Many men suffer from the disease as well.
The NFL has taken the campaign to new heights this year, adding to their special web page with information about the importance of annual screenings, statistics on the number of people affected by breast cancer, and even the significance of exercise in decreasing the risk factors for the disease. They call it a "Crucial Catch", promoting the importance of early detection to survival rates.
The NFL has even developed a huge line of breast cancer awareness merchandise, with jerseys, pins, jewelry, hats, water bottles and even Christmas ornaments for fans of every individual pro team.
The Oct. 1 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk at Penn State Altoona was more challenging than usual with cold and rainy weather, still, throngs of walkers, organizers and survivors braved the yucky day for the important fundraiser.
A companion walk to the Altoona event is being held for the first time this Saturday in Bedford. The walk route will begin at the Bedford Area High School, proceed through downtown Bedford and end up at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort. Part of the route will take place on a new proposed trail for walkers and hikers in Bedford County.
The event has already surpassed in $30,000 goal, and that's good news for a county with a higher-than-average occurrence of the disease.
There is a special significance to the nation-wide Making Strides Walks. In addition to the celebration of survivors, the show of unity, and the raising of funds and awareness, studies show that women who walk briskly for 2 1/2 hours a week have a lower risk of cancer.
That's worth a walk for someone you love, so team up with the NFL and "Get Your Pink On!"
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Kellie@BedfordCountyChamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.