To kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Rome Free Academy girls junior varsity and varsity soccer teams held their annual pink games in a home doubleheader on the turf at RFA Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 2, against Jamesville-DeWitt.
RFA wore custom pink jerseys to honor the national annual efforts made during October to raise awareness and resources to address the second most common cancer suffered by women in the U.S. The teams will also ask for donations at the games to benefit the Saint Agatha Foundation, which provides financial assistance to residents of Central New York battling breast cancer.
The RFA girls dedicated the game and their efforts to fix focus on breast cancer; of which 255,000 new cases are diagnosed in America each year, with 44,000 deaths from the disease annually. New York State ranks 17th in the country in incidence of breast cancer, with 129 cases per 100,000 residents, 15,358 new cases each year, a 1.3% rise over five years. State of New York Health reports that Oneida County saw 88.2% of women aged 50 to 75 screened for breast cancer, one of the highest screening rates in the state, where screening directly correlates with early diagnosis and survival. Approximately 200 new cases of breast cancer are reported in Oneida County annually and approximately 28 women from the region die each year to the disease.
“Breast cancer affects a lot of people and some of us have had people that are close to us affected by cancer in general,” said RFA girls varsity soccer captain, Caroline Rood, “so, it is definitely meaningful to us to be able to raise awareness and support this cause.”
The Saint Agatha Foundation – which serves breast cancer patients in Onondaga, Cortland, Cayuga, Madison, Oneida and Oswego counties, was founded by Manlius native, Laurie Mezzalingua, during her 12-year war with breast cancer, to provide financial support to the people of Central New York who, like her, were burdened by the financial weight of the battle with the disease. In the past decade, the foundation has provided almost 7,000 Central New Yorkers in their breast cancer battles, manifest in over $12 million in services and support.
“It is a great way to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month while also collecting donations for organizations that support individuals in our community in their fight against breast cancer,” said varsity head coach Melissa Downs. “The girls really enjoy this opportunity to rally around a cause that is important to so many and to give back to the community that our team is a part of.”
RFA’s junior varsity soccer team was led by captains Alexis Failing and Keira Maurer, and the varsity girls were captained by Rood, Grace Engelbert and Lauren Dorfman. The teams reached out to their opponents to invite them to join in the spirit of the event and provided them with pink ribbons to use during the contests. The teams invited the community to come out and support the game and the foundation.