Breast cancer. Two words. Twelve letters. Yet, those words can send shivers down your back and make your skin crawl.
Few people can say they don’t know someone who has fought breast cancer. Approximately one of every eight U.S. women will develop “invasive breast cancer” at some point in her life, according to breastcancer.org. Men can develop it, too, as about one in every 1,000 men will develop it throughout their lifetime.
On Edinboro University’s campus, Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA) works to educate others about breast cancer, especially throughout the month of October, since it is breast cancer awareness month.
“We strive to raise money and build awareness for breast cancer research,” Allison Colangelo, Edinboro University’s ZTA chapter president, said.
“We want to celebrate survivors’ lives and… make sure that they [men and women] understand the risks of breast cancer and that they should check themselves.”
On a national level, ZTA is partnered with the NFL, the American Cancer Society and Bright Pink.
Through the NFL at “Crucial Catch” pink out games and pink out games at college campuses across the United States, ZTA hands out over 1 million pink ribbons each year. The “Crucial Catch” games are Colangelo’s favorite event.
“The atmosphere at Steelers games is so fun,” she said. “The people there are so excited about donating and wearing their ribbons proudly. I love hearing their personal stories in connection with breast cancer when we pass them a ribbon.”
They attend and volunteer at the local “Making Strides Walk” through their partnership with American Cancer Society and go through educational workshops with Bright Pink.
Bright Pink, one of ZTA’s newest partnerships, is one of the only national nonprofit organizations focused on prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer.
“We go through educational workshops each year to learn more about breast cancer so that we can take those facts to the public,” Colangelo said.
On Edinboro University’s campus, ZTA holds many of its own “Think Pink” events. They host pink out games with the football team, women’s soccer, men and women’s basketball, and wrestling, while attempting to add to the groups that do these games each year.
Additionally, for the first time this year, ZTA started a “Pink Warrior Challenge,” which the sorority hopes to continue in future years. By working with ROTC, ZTA created an obstacle course, where anyone could come attempt it to raise money for breast cancer.
“Breast cancer holds a special place in all of our hearts and these events mean so much to us,” Tina Schuler, ZTA director of philanthropy, said. “It’s amazing to be able to go to and host these events and meet others affected by breast cancer and hear their stories.”
Since October is breast cancer awareness month, ZTA has been especially active in its awareness efforts and activities.
However, the sorority works for the entire year to raise awareness. Every April, their “Big Man On Campus” event, a male beauty pageant, draws a big crowd.
“The men get really into it and it becomes a really funny night,” Colangelo said.
ZTA’s mission statement is “to make a difference in the lives of our members by developing the potential of each individual through innovative programming, which emphasizes leadership development, service to others, academic achievement and continued personal growth for women, with a commitment to friendship and the future based on the sisterhood, values and traditions of the past.”
“Right in our mission statement, it says that we should be providing service to others, [so] we try to help as much as possible on campus with all organizations efforts to put on breast cancer awareness events,” Colangelo said.
Tracy Geibel is the Campus Life Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org