EDWARDSVILLE — Southern Illinois University Edwardsville women's basketball, the SIUE Athletics department, and the campus community came together on Feb. 16 for the first annual Pink Zone basketball game and fundraiser where they created awareness for breast cancer and raised $8,602 for the St. Louis affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, school officials said Friday.
"Komen St. Louis appreciates the efforts of everyone who organized and supported SIUE's Pink Zone," said Helen Chesnut, Komen St. Louis Executive Director and breast cancer survivor. "Pink Zone is an excellent example of how individuals can work together to make a real impact in the local fight against breast cancer. Every dollar raised through these efforts will help provide breast health and breast cancer care for women and families in our community who otherwise may not have access."
A committee of 10 people, connected to the cause and/or campus, put together a variety of opportunities for the community to get involved including a kick-off reception on Feb. 13 that was hosted at the Doubletree by Hilton in Collinsville. At the reception Chesnut spoke on the importance of supporting the cause.
"Having a strong speaker at the reception helps promote the event as well as gives it great credibility," Head Women's Basketball Coach Paula Buscher said. "All of us got to hear from someone that has been directly impacted by the disease and it makes it personal."
Along with the reception, a bucket raffle and silent auction raised funds. At the game on the 16th, 16 runners and bikers received pledges to exercise for five-minute intervals in honor or remembrance of someone close to them who has battled breast cancer. The exercisers were started by Director of Athletics Dr. Brad Hewitt and included other familiar campus faces, such as Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe, Darleen Harmon and Kara Shustrin among others.
In front of 2,436 fans, the largest women's basketball home crowd of the season, 23 breast cancer survivors were honored at halftime. They were welcomed by Chancellor Furst-Bowe and Chesnut.
This was the first annual Pink Zone under Buscher's guidance. She stated that she hoped it is just the beginning of a greater partnership and event.
"We had the opportunity to raise awareness and raise funds to help find a cure for breast cancer," Buscher said. "We work with young female athletes day in and day out, so it was a natural cause to embrace. Our goal is that someday we will find a cure so the student-athletes who I am blessed to work with will never have to fight the same battles."