More than 40 breast cancer survivors, representing survivors everywhere, were honored by the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, October 16 at "A Crucial Catch" game against the Atlanta Falcons. The national initiative, in partnership with the American Cancer Society, focuses on the importance of regular breast cancer screenings, and raises funds for breast cancer research.
Donning pink athletic gear and equipment as a tribute to cancer survivors and to help raise awareness, the Seahawks victory made the day even sweeter, said Marlyn Kraft, one of the few male breast cancer survivors in the group, who hollered along with 69,071 12s to rock CenturyLink Field as the seconds ticked down.
"It was a great honor to be there and celebrate with all the survivors, and especially to be able to share from the rare male perspective," said Kraft. "It's a large venue to share such an important message about early screening—so many people see it, and they see our faces; that makes it real."
Throughout October, NFL games feature players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel, in addition to in-stadium branding, to help raise awareness of early screening. Much of the apparel worn at games by players and coaches will be auctioned off by the NFL for a good cause.
Proceeds are earmarked for the ACS's Community Health Advocates Implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment & Equity (CHANGE) program. Since 2012, CHANGE grants have been awarded to community partners to provide education, outreach, navigation and access to cancer screening within communities experiencing an unequal burden of cancer. These community partners have provided more than 260,000 outreach and education engagements and have contributed to more than 120,000 breast cancer screenings provided at low or no cost.
In addition, the Seahawks donate an additional 10 percent of pink gear sales to the ACS's Road to Recovery program, helping cancer patients get rides to their life-saving appointments.
When Lisa Newell was diagnosed with breast cancer, she didn't embrace the color pink at first. It was a constant in-your-face reminder that she was sick with the disease. At this past Sunday's game, Lisa said she now looks at the color pink as a symbol of strength and a never-give-up attitude, "kind of like the Seahawks."
"Fighting breast cancer certainly has its bad days, but yesterday's celebration of our survival, with the Seahawks, is definitely a very good day," Newell said. "My favorite part of yesterday was waiting in the tunnel to go out on the field. We were all united together with smiles on our faces, with each of us embracing the moment.
"I felt so very alive. And that's a wonderful feeling."
A three-time breast cancer survivor, Dana Manciagli said she is grateful for the Seahawks' involvement in "A Crucial Catch" and activities that remind people how important it is to be proactive about health.
"I wish I didn't have to be on the field at halftime," said Manciagli. "I would give that pink t-shirt back if I could. But, I live with stage IV metastatic cancer, and so it's an honor to be recognized by the Seattle Seahawks. What the NFL and Seattle Seahawks and the Sea Gals are doing is raising the awareness so more people get their check-ups for early detection and donate funds that we desperately need for more breast cancer research."
CenturyLink Field and the Seahawks are repping pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.