By thinking pink, sports raising cancer awareness
It’s become as synonymous with October as the falling leaves: breast cancer awareness.
On NFL fields around the country, the league’s toughest are donning pink socks, gloves and other accessories, many in support of a loved one.
In fact, we’d be hard-pressed to find someone whose life has not been impacted by cancer, or who does not have a family member or friend who has faced a devastating diagnosis.
Perhaps one of the most inspiring stories out of the NFL came with the news that DeAngelo Williams, a former Steelers running back, funded mammograms for more than 500 women through his foundation. The generous gesture honored his mother who passed away in 2016 as well as four aunts who lost their battles with the disease.
In a moving 2015 video re-shared recently on Twitter, Williams talked about pink being more than a color, but a culture, saying, in part: “My hair is pink, my heart is pink … to all of the survivors and the ones who are going through it, we love you. You are not alone. We will continue this fight.”
I have had the honor of witnessing the culture of which he speaks first-hand while working with the Bedford County Pink Ribbon Fund. The committee that started a local walk, and later added a 5K run as part of the Rotary Race Series, is comprised largely of breast cancer survivors.
These women and families of grace, strength and courage who, after waging their own wars with the disease, choose to share their experiences and their influence with the community in an effort to make the journey a little easier for someone else.
Many of us, faced with a life-altering cancer diagnosis would do what we have to, and put the experience behind us. But these pink-clad warriors willfully relive their experiences time and time again for the benefit of others. They lead the efforts to raise money and awareness, providing tangible and moral support to breast cancer patients and their families.
Medical advancements and earlier detection have improved outcomes, creating more and more survivors who then pay it forward.
The culture is real and it’s inspiring.
Throughout the region this month, and indeed throughout the year, walkers and runners, football, basketball, soccer and many other sports programs, from elementary school to the pros, will make pink a part of their culture. The Altoona Curve’s PNG Field just hosted the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk this weekend.
For better, and sometimes for worse, sports are revered in our country and adored in our communities; this is another example of using the platform of sport for good.
Fans might love their black and gold, blue and white, maroon, orange or green; but this month and even beyond … there is definitely power in the pink.