Pink out and fight breast cancer

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For many, this time of year is associated with fun fall activities such as pumpkin picking, Halloween decorating and enjoying seasonal goodies like apple cider. But for others, the month of October has a different, more serious significance as National Breast Cancer Awareness month.

To commence the events week-long event, participants release pink balloons in memory of loved ones impacted by breast cancer.

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. In an effort to educate and prevent diagnoses, various organizations throughout the country take time to raise awareness and funds in hopes of one day finding a cure for helping those affected by the cancer.

Here at the College, the Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity hosted its annual event, Pink Out Week. ZTA is known for its philanthropy — breast cancer awareness and education — and seeks to not only inform the college community about breast cancer but to raise funds for the cause as well. Proceeds from the week-long event are sent to the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation and divided between various breast cancer awareness and education organizations.

“Everyone knows one person who has been affected by breast cancer. It is our hope and goal to provide tools to cope with the experience,” said Amanda Soler, a senior biology major and ZTA sister.

The week, which began Sunday, Sept. 29, featured a variety activities, including, haircuts, a T-shirt sale, a Zumbathon, pizza fundraisers, inspirational and educational speeches and an outdoor party.

Pink Out Week kicked off with the second annual Balloon Release, where students gathered at the Science Complex on Sunday night. Here, pink biodegradable balloons were distributed. Students wrote the names of people they knew who had battled with breast cancer and released balloons in the honor of those people.

The following Monday, Sept. 30, the week-long T-shirt sale began. Shirts read “Don’t Stop Believing” and were sold for $10. Students were also able to receive haircuts and pink hair extensions that afternoon in the Brower Student Center. Festivities continued Monday night when free pink cupcakes were given out in Eickhoff and a pizza fundraiser took place at Piccolo Trattoria restaurant nearby.

On the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 2, students gathered for an educational talk about breast cancer. The event, “Educate and Caffeinate,” featured speakers Matthew Wund of the biology department and Sharon Byrne of the nursing department. Here, speakers shared personal experiences with breast cancer as well as explained their work with raising awareness across the nation.

Wund began the talk by sharing his sister’s story.  In her memory, he and his family founded the Christina S. Walsh Breast Cancer Foundation, which aims to assist breast cancer patients and their families with medical expenses.

“We saw the toll this took on my sister, and this is a disease that affects the whole family,” Wund said.

He continued to explain that the foundation strives to hold fun events in honor of his sister’s fun personality. Wund ended his speech, commending ZTA’s work in aiding the Walsh Foundation among others.

Shortly after Wund’s speech, Bryne took the stage. Bryne recently began working at the College and dedicated much time to her specialization of breast cancer research. Serving to educate the audience, Bryne took a different approach to her presentation. She played trivia games with students, as well as “Reduce Breast Cancer Bingo,” handed out small prizes and made it an interactive learning experience.

The week continued with a “Kiss Away Cancer” banner event on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct 3. At this event, students were able to leave a kiss mark on a banner created by ZTA after donating $1 to the cause. The banner was then hung in the Student Center. The week ended with an outdoor Pink Out Party in Alumni Grove where tropical shaved ice was served.

Pink Out Week was recognized as 2012’s Outstanding Program of the Year at the College. Last year alone they raised a total of $5,200 throughout the week. Their goal after this week’s events was a minimum of $4,800, bringing them to a total of $10,000 in two consecutive school years in hopes of being eligible for the Zeta Tau Alpha National Founders Club.

“Hopefully, we not only make Founders Club, but exceed last year’s donations as well,” said Jade Gordon, a senior elementary education major and sister of ZTA.