“Digging Pink” with Volleyball and Relay

Christine Zhao, Staff Writer

Last month was National Breast Cancer Awareness month, an annual event the American Cancer Society first instituted in 1985 to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. Many students in the Jefferson community came together to participate in this yearly event, including members of the Jefferson volleyball team (TJVB) and the club ‘Relay for Life’.

“For the past two years, [we] have enlisted a new way to involve fans with the Dig Pink fundraiser in a new way,” varsity coach Helen Smith said. “Inspired by St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital’s funding efforts with ‘Math-a-thon’ TJVB took this concept to ‘Dig for a Cure’ by recruiting sponsors to donate funds depending on the success of our team.”

To participate in “The Side-Out Foundation’s” Dig-Out national movement, the volleyball team put up flyers around the school and Gym 1 to advertise the event, baked cookies for the bake sale on Oct. 20 (the date of their Dig Pink game), and spread the word of the event to their families and friends to ask for donations.

“For every ace, kill, block or dig, [my sponsors] gave a certain amount of money,” freshman Jenny Pruitt said. “I got someone to donate $10 per ace, and we had 18 aces, so someone gave $180. A lot of people tried really hard to bake things and get sponsors, and it paid off.”

Along with the $520.90 made from the Dig Pink game at George C. Marshall High School, TJVB raised a total $2,313.90 for breast cancer research this year, exceeding their goal of $2000.

“I feel really proud of my team because I knew that we managed to get as many sponsors as we could, and we raised a lot of money,” sophomore Simra Ali said. “Being able to donate that much was really uplifting for the team.”

Outside of the volleyball team, other Jefferson students have found their passion in raising money for cancer research through Relay for Life.

“I became interested in Relay cause I heard about it from my cousin [who] goes to Centerville,” freshman Kaitlin Phan said. “I really like how it’s for a good cause, and we get to fundraise with friends, and the events are really fun to go to.”

Junior and co-event chair Daniel Haseler was inspired by his family, diagnosed with cancer, to join Relay. In addition, Dr. Debbie Rachlin, a breast cancer survivor, gave a speech at Jefferson During Haseler’s freshman year, inspiring him to do Relay.

“I have three older brothers who went to TJ and they all did ‘Relay for Life’ at TJ; two of them [were] on committee,” Haseler said. “So they told me to go to see what it was like freshman year and I really liked it. Dr. Rachlin, the mother of the person who started TJ Relay for Life, survived cancer for 26 years. Over this last summer, she passed away. It was hard for us, a lot of us, on Relay [for] Life committee.”

To raise money for cancer patients like Dr. Rachlin, more than a quarter of Jefferson students join and create Relay teams to fundraise throughout the year.

“ Last year, we had between 500 and 600 members, so a lot of people are passionate about it,” Haseler said. “We raised over $48,000 last year. Everyone’s making a difference.”

Sophomore and committee member Rithika Lanka is optimistic about Relay’s success for the upcoming year as well.

“It’s going to get bigger and better every single year,” Lanka said. “Because a lot more people are going to be involved this year, we’re gonna raise more money to benefit the American Cancer Society, so overall it’s a more successful event.”