Pink ribbons adorned the hair of the Lady Kingsmen, both varsity and junior varsity, as they took on and in Coaches vs. Cancer, a fundraiser benefiting the American Cancer Foundation at Kings Park High School Thursday night.
The energy was high in the lobby where the girls were selling homemade cookies and brownies. Smiles, laughs and playfulness were evident as they joked and teased each other. The mood suddenly turns more serious when asked what a night like this signifies. It’s fun and games and then suddenly it’s not.
“My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago,” said Marion Kawecki, guard for the varsity team.
“I didn’t know how much money it was for all of the surgeries. We can raise money and help families,” said Kawecki, whose mother is now in recovery.
Teammates Marjorie Duffel and Kristen Piacciano recently discovered that a in the school was diagnosed two days before Christmas with lymphoma. Her name was hand written on the back of each player's shirt in a sign of solidarity.
“Everyone is supporting her. We wanted to come up with a way to raise money so we ordered shirts and Danielle (Krupka, team captain) and her mom had them tie-dyed,” said Duffel.
Coaches vs. Cancer was born out of an idea that former Missouri college basketball coach and cancer survivor, Norm Stewart had as a way to raise money for a cause he closely related to. He proposed the idea of fans contributing a dollar amount for every three-point shot. This blossomed into a nationwide partnership between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. According the ACS website, Coaches vs. Cancer has raised nearly $50 million since it began in 1993.
Lady Kingmsen varsity coach Tom Edmundson is not immune to the effects the disease has on friends and family. His motivation is personal as well.
“My father-in-law has stage four lung cancer. He is in recovery and his last scans were clean,” said Edmundson.
Edmundson said his hopes were to raise about $1,000. They have reached $2,000 and expect to surpass that with a few remaining t-shirt sales.
"I am real proud of the girls and their efforts," said Edmundson.
This was the first event of its kind for Kings Park but the school is interested in making this a yearly fundraiser.
“We hope to do this again next year,” said Edmundson. “It is something that is close to my heart.”