Dodgeball tournament raises funds for breast cancer awareness

By Linda Pang

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The late-morning sun beamed brightly from a blue sky over the outdoor basketball court at Marple campus as Suni Blackwell, director of Wellness, Athletics and Recreation, greeted the competitors standing before him. But instead of addressing a Phantoms athletics team, he was speaking to students from Fundamentals of Journalism I and II (J1 and J2), along with senior newspaper staff from The Communitarian, and their English professor, Bonnie McMeans.

They were getting ready to play in DCCC’s first Passionately Pink Dodgeball Tournament to raise funds for breast cancer awareness.

“Thank you for getting this rocking and rolling and all of you guys for stepping up and being a part of this,” Blackwell told the crowd before explaining the rules for five minute games in a best of five series. “And the final rule is: try not to get hit!”

The Oct. 31 tournament, which had been rescheduled from the previous week due to rain, took place in windy 50 degree temperatures as two teams of five were cheered on by a handful of student spectators and staff from the Student Center.

Bonnie’s Ballers, a team of J1 students, some wearing light pink shirts, faced off against The PrEditors (a twist on “predators”), a team of J2 students and newspaper senior staff wearing black Communitarian T-shirts and hot pink bandanas. The PrEditors had a chance to team up against their faculty advisor Bonnie McMeans, who joined Bonnie’s Ballers when a team member felt ill.

“We needed a team captain and naturally, I volunteered myself,” said Andrew Henry, 19, a journalism major and J1 student. “But I had to lie down for a minute because I was slowly dying.”

The PrEditors won the first two games, but Bonnie’s Ballers got more competitive as the tournament continued, tying it up 2-2 after game four. Players groaned as gusts of wind sent soft, blue dodgeballs flying in unanticipated directions. Moments later, a last minute catch by one of Bonnie’s Ballers brought all of his teammates back in to help win the final game before time ran out.

“I kind of had a strategy and it somehow worked out in the end to win the game,” said 19-year-old communications major Christopher Bogarbus. “It was fun. It was a lot more exercise than I expected. My legs still kind of hurt because of the running.”

The Department of Wellness, Athletics & Recreation hosted the tournament in honor of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Teams paid a $20 registration fee in the Student Center to support breast cancer awareness, and the winning team players each took home a $10 gift card to the college bookstore.

Journalism major and J1 student Katie Cameron, 19, said she had a good time and enjoyed the friendly competition but, more importantly, she wanted to support the cause because it hit close to home.

“My mom has had breast cancer,” Cameron explained. “She’s a survivor of 14 years, so we always do something for the cause. She donates to Susan G. Komen and she does the walk sometimes.”

Henry said that he was interested in supporting the event because his grandmother has beaten breast cancer twice. “I really think it’s awesome that the college is doing something to bring awareness, especially during October’s breast cancer awareness month,” he added.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer for women in the United States, after skin cancer, but treatable with early detection. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, approximately one in every eight women born today in the United States will get breast cancer during their lifetime.

“A lot of people have known a close relative, a family friend, or someone they grew up with that has been affected by breast cancer,” said Sarah DeAngelo, the new Wellness Coordinator for the Department of Wellness, Athletics, and Recreation. “Everybody knows somebody.”

DCCC isn’t the only institution trying to get this message across. Every October, pink ribbons and decorative hats and shirts are worn, while fitness events are held “for the cure,” in hopes of raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research, education, support and medical services.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 11 percent of new cases are found in women 18 to 44 years old, but there is also evidence to suggest that physical activity may help reduce the risk of several cancers.

Worldwide, around 10 percent of breast and colon cancer cases are linked to a lack of activity.

“Personally, the most important thing of October Breast Cancer Awareness month is to get people aware about early prevention, early detection, seeing your doctor to get screenings and doing self-exams,” DeAngelo said.

DeAngelo, who started in August, works with Blackwell to plan a wellness program to get students, faculty, and staff of all ages involved in their own health and fitness.

“This is the first time we had [a dodgeball tournament],” Blackwell said. “Sarah and I sat together and thought what could we do that could help out with breast cancer awareness, is something fun that everyone can take part in, and brings the inner kid back out. Go figure that it worked out that we did this on Halloween!”

Orita Stewart, HR Generalist at DCCC, coordinates the events for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, including selling raffle tickets and partnering with departments for additional events.

“We do have [an awareness month] event at all of the campuses, so all of the other campuses do something a little different,” Stewart said. “Some do a bake sale and Exton had a cupcake truck.”

This year, Marple campus had their first dedication board. Stewart explained that each donor had the opportunity to place a pink ribbon dedication on the wall in honor of a survivor, someone that has passed, or someone fighting breast cancer.

At the end of the month, Stewart pulled all of the money together and sent aproximately $2500 to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Stewart added that although the college has historically donated to Komen, it might change in the future.

“We’ve had some push-back,” Stewart explained. “I guess a couple of years ago they had some discrepancies, so people thought ‘We’re not donating to that,’ so it behooves us to go out and find something that’s worth the time.”

According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s website, 80 percent of their money goes to the mission areas of education, screening, treatment, and research.

However, in 2012, the Susan G. Komen Foundation was under scrutiny by critics regarding the disproportionate amount between what programs the donations supported and the CEO’s six-figure salary, political stances that involved removing their support for breast cancer screening at Planned Parenthood, and using pink ribbon merchandise containing cancer-causing materials to promote their organization.

Charity watchdog websites, like Charity Navigator, ranked the foundation a three out of four stars. Ratings are based on how much of the cash budget is spent on actual programs and services versus fundraising and administrative overhead, as well as additional factors such as financial reports.

Four-star rated charities include Breast Cancer Research Foundation and locally-based Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) and Breastcancer.org. LBBC was rated 99.63/100 with 83.2 percent spent on programs and allocating 6.5 percent for fundraising expenses.

According to Charity Navigator, some of the low-ranked charities include the National Cancer Center (a 0-star rating with only 30.6 percent for programs versus 63.4 percent for fundraising costs) and the American Cancer Society (a two-star rating with only 59.9 percent for programs). Charity Navigator has “high concern advisory” notices for the Breast Cancer Society, Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation, and Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation, which were under investigation for concerns of illegal activity, improper conduct, or organizational mismanagement.

Nevertheless, awareness is improving and breast cancer survival rates are increasing, thanks to screening and improved treatment, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which reports that the breast cancer death rate in the United States has been declining steadily since 1990, “when it peaked at a rate of 33 deaths for every 100,000 women.”

“Regardless of the money that gets raised, people are more aware of the issue and they are being more pro-active in caring for themselves,” DeAngelo said. “The education and the awareness that comes out from all of these fun events and activities is even more valuable to the individuals that participate.”

Blackwell and DeAngelo hope to have additional dodgeball tournaments in the future with more student and staff participation. All of the players said that they wished it had been advertised more.

“There could have been more teams playing,” said John (Jack) Kearney, 19, a journalism major and a Bonnie’s Ballers team member. “It was for a good cause and it was a good time. I can’t believe we won! We lost the first two rounds, but we came back.”

Cameron said she enjoyed seeing the rivalry between J1 and J2.

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“And our teacher got out there with us,” Cameron added. “The J2 team was trying to hit her and we were trying to save her. It was really fun!”

Dean Galiffa, 19, a journalism major and J1 student, decided to let the more athletically-inclined students play while he cheered on his classmates.

“Initially, I was concerned that it would be boring,” Galiffa said with a laugh. “Then it really turned around—the fact that J1 won was actually pretty interesting! Who doesn’t like watching a bunch of adults play dodgeball?”

He also fully supports the breast cancer awareness cause.

“It doesn’t hurt to donate even a little bit of money,” Galiffa said. “Even just change that you have on you. Every little bit makes a difference.”

Contact Linda Pang at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu