Vassar’s playing fields and other sports venues were awash in pink for eight days in October as the teams paid tribute to those who have succumbed to breast cancer, those who are still battling the disease, and those who have conquered it.
Think Pink, an annual nationwide event, was established in 1992 to raise awareness about the disease. During Think Pink Week at Vassar, teams wore pink socks (rugby and field hockey) pink shoelaces (women’s volleyball), pink caps (men’s and women’s swim teams), and pink pre-game warm-up gear (volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey). The men’s and women’s cross country teams wore pink number bibs in the Liberty League Championship races. Gordon Field, where the soccer teams play, was festooned with pink ribbons, and pink balloons decorated the stands at Gordon Field and Weinberg Turf Field, where the field hockey team plays.
Many of the teams dedicated their games to those who had battled the disease. “My grandmother passed away four years ago after a long battle with breast cancer, and I’m thinking of her today,” Camelia Manring, a goalkeeper on the women’s soccer team said just before a game against RPI.
Women’s rugby player Alicia Menard-Livingston ’18 said it was fitting the team had dedicated its game to a former Vassar rugby captain who had recently conquered the disease. “My time on the team has showed me that it’s more than a sport; it’s a community, and this event reminds us that our community extends far beyond the four years we wear the VC jersey.”
Rugby Coach Tony Brown said both the men’s and women’s teams had been following their former captain’s progress in fighting the disease for several years, and she recently sent a letter to the teams thanking all of them for their support.
Hayden Van Brewer ‘18, captain of the men’s soccer team, says he’s been proud to be a part of Think Pink Week for the past four years. “It’s an honor to step onto the field and see the pink ribbons and be part of something that’s meaningful to many members of the team,” Van Brewer says.
Men’s soccer Coach Andy Jennings agreed. “Think Pink is a wonderful initiative on many levels,” Jennings says. “We all know someone affected by breast cancer so at the very basic level it is a very personal experience. But it is also an opportunity for the members of the team to show support, identify with, and take the time to reflect about breast cancer. The team has embraced it and are proud to be a part of the initiative.”
Vassar alum Pari Forood ’80, executive director of the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation, says she was grateful to the players and coaches for taking part in the initiative. “One in eight women will be affected by this disease, and we are here to help them,” Forood says.
Since its inception in 2004, Miles of Hope has granted more than $2 million for financial assistance for those affected by breast cancer and for scholarships for college-bound high school students whose lives have been affected by the disease. The organization also funds education and outreach initiatives in the nine counties of the Hudson Valley.