Fans in a sea of pink roared loudly in Heiges Field House on Saturday, Feb. 16, for the Shippensburg University men’s and women’s basketball teams as they both took home two well-earned victories against East Stroudsburg University. However, the atmosphere was not just focused on basketball that day. Along with cheering on the Raiders, the sea of pink was to support and promote breast cancer awareness for the annual “Play 4 Kay” event.
According to www.play4kay.org, “Play 4 Kay” is named after The Kay Yow Cancer Fund charity, and it gives coaches nationwide the chance to raise breast cancer awareness and to have the opportunity to fund breast cancer research. More than $2 million has been funded for women’s cancer research since the charity began in 2007.
Heiges Field House was decorated for the cause as creative and motivating signs colored the wall with positive and encouraging phrases that read, “Believe,” “Fight, Believe, Hope,” “Join the fight,” “Save the ta-tas,” “Save a rack,” “Show you care, be aware,” “Pink Power” and more. Tables were set up to give donations to the charity, and some of the tables were filled with prizes to be raffled such as athletic baskets, office supplies, a Vera Bradley bag and more. There was also a place to write a memo for loved ones who battled or are battling cancer.
In support of the cause, the basketball players wore “Hooping for a cure” T-shirts while shooting around before each game on Saturday. The fans would also raise their black, white and pink “I Play 4 Kay” signs every time a Raider took a foul shot.
Although the crowd was full of positive energy, silence began to fall as SU senior football defensive back Corey Hunt stood on the court in front of the SU community and shared his story with battling cancer.
Hunt said one morning in 2010 after a football game, he noticed a large bump on the right side of his back. A few months later, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Synovial Cell Sarcoma, which is discovered in the soft tissue close to the arms and legs. Hunt continued to say that his chemotherapy sessions were 10 times worse than the intensity of his football practices.
Through enduring the rigorous chemotherapy sessions and collapsing in a parking garage outside the hospital, Hunt began to think he might not survive his fight against cancer.
His extreme dehydration, abnormally low blood pressure and declining heart rate was taking a toll on his body, and he shared that he was beginning to see the “white light” people talk about before dying.
Though his body was weak, Hunt knew he had to fight the disease and continue to live.
As Hunt stood on the court in front of the many ears listening to his compelling story, he went on to say he ended up beating cancer and was deemed cancer-free on May 24, 2011.
After his motivational speech, SU President William Ruud awarded Hunt the Jane Goss Perseverance Award and the gymnasium quickly filled with applause.
Goss was the former associate director of athletics and was involved with the SU athletic staff since 1967. Goss was the head coach for the women’s field hockey and tennis teams at SU.
The SU “Play 4 Kay” event was a great and fun way for the SU community to come together to support an important cause.
For more information or to get involved with the cause “Play 4 Kay,” visit www.play4kay.org.