Sorority sisters honor survivors and those battling cancer

Category:  News
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016 at 4:56 PM
Sorority sisters honor survivors and those battling cancer by Hannah McDonald
Photo: Hannah McDonald

Cheerleaders wearing big, bright, pink hair bows stood behind the line of Edinboro University football players.

As the game against Seton Hill began, the cheerleaders did their choreographed routines.

As the home-side stands celebrated with the first Edinboro touchdown, one could look around and see little “Think Pink” ribbons pinned on hoodies and jackets of many spectators throughout the crowd.

“Scots, stand up and yell: EUP,” the cheerleaders chanted.

As halftime approached, the percussion section of the Edinboro marching band warmed up on the track, a little ways away from the field. Near them, the dancers stood around, preparing for the show. In honor of the event that was about to take place, the eight girls all had pink pompoms and hair bows.

The second quarter of the game ended. Football players rushed off the field; replaced by the band, dancers and color guard. The “Everything New York” themed halftime show was underway.

“Scotland The Brave,” the show’s final piece, played as 18 Zeta Tau Alpha girls walked onto the track, facing the home team spectators. Each girl held a light pink balloon. All were ready to release their balloon into the sky as a tribute for those who have battled breast cancer.

Zeta Tau Alpha’s President Alison Colangelo shared that the sorority had sold balloons to those who wanted one released in honor of a specific person and to raise money for research on the disease. Most balloons were being released to honor survivors of breast cancer.

Many Zeta Tau Alpha sisters had mothers, friends or other family members who had fought the disease and felt very close to the cause they were promoting. Colongelo’s mother is a survivor, which is one reason why she feels so passionately about what they are doing.

“We are nationally partnered with the Bright Pink Association, the NFL and the American Cancer society through our national sorority,” Colongelo said. Bright pink is the only national non-profit organization with a focus on prevention and detection at a young age for breast and ovarian cancer.

Bright Pink’s mission is to “save women’s lives from breast and ovarian cancer by empowering them to live proactively at a young age.”

The awareness part of Zeta’s campaign includes handing out mini, bright pink ribbons and a Pittsburgh Steelers football game event, very similar to the one done at Sox Harrison Stadium.

“It’s all about educating women...self testing and things like that. So we just want to get the word out there because this is a [crucial] age range, like, just in college it’s really important especially,” Colongelo said.

Sorority sisters hand out pamphlets with information about breast cancer to help educate young women. These pamphlets include information about testing, and stickers to put on a calendar as a reminder to self-test monthly. Along with the stickers, there is also information about warning signs, what to look for and what one should do if she finds anything abnormal during their self-evaluation.

The sorority is newly partnered with Bright Pink, but as time goes on, the Zeta Tau Alpha sisters will implement three phases of the campaign.

During the first phase, the campaign is brought to Greek Life, then the university, and lastly, the community. As the project spreads, the hope is that knowledge about the disease will as well.

Sarah Jacko, journalism and public relations major, is the Think Pink chairman for her chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha. She works year round to create events and continues helping the cause with Zeta, but October is the group’s biggest and busiest month; since October is national breast cancer awareness month.

Jacko feels very strongly about the cause, and the breast cancer prevention campaign is what convinced her to join the sorority. Lots of women in her family, and the families of her friends, have been survivors and she wants to give back and help those who are struggling with it.

Two years ago, Jacko cut her hair, donating 12 inches to the cause; along with helping with breast cancer awareness events in high school.

One project the Zeta sisters do to raise awareness about breast cancer is make chemo baskets. The baskets are full of treats, games (such as Sudoku puzzles), and words of encouragement.

The message the sisters try to send with these baskets is that those fighting the disease are not alone.

For the sisters helping with these, the importance of sending these baskets is, “they (those battling cancer) know they have people who are here for them,” Colongelo said.

Following Survivor Night, the Zeta sisters will continue their work throughout the year to raise awareness about breast cancer. Alongside their affiliation with Bright Pink and independent projects, such as the chemo baskets, they look to spread the most important ideas that go along with the cause: education, detection and support. 

Hannah McDonald is the copy editor for The Spectator. 


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