Flashes of pink danced around Fenner Fields in Cazenovia on Saturday, as the Cazenovia Youth Soccer Program helped spread breast cancer awareness with what they called "pink out games".
The players, coaches and parents donned the pink shirts, helping raise more than $3,000 for one of the soccer moms, Christine LaFave, who has been diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer. Amidst the sea of pink, LaFave was able to watch her daughter Grace, a first grader at Cazenovia, play soccer on Saturday morning.
"It's been amazing," LaFave says. "I feel very blessed to live in the Cazenovia community, the outpouring of support towards me, my family..my daughter has just been really amazing. I'm kind of overwhelmed sometimes.. but in a really good way."
The "pink out" was an idea of Bill Dolly, the President of the Cazenovia Youth Soccer Program, who said he's seen the efforts made by other sports organizations like the NFL, and wanted to do it on the local level.
"It hasn't been an easy time for her, but to see the community come out and support her, she's told me it's hard for her to keep her emotions in..but she loves it and has been great about it," Dolly says.
The support extends beyond the soccer fields and the pink shirts, as fellow soccer moms in the program have also rallied around LaFave, pitching in bring Christine food on days she wasn't feeling well and even transporting young Grace to practice and friends' birthday parties. As for Grace, her parents have educated her on her mother's bout with cancer, and she even thinks all of the support makes her mom's smile a little bigger.
"I think it makes her feel stronger," Grace says. "I think it supports her and makes her feel better."
Grace's teammates and opponents in the program have done more than just wear the shirts as well. On Saturday, the kids themselves helped to raise money by selling baked goods and even made more than 40 pink bracelets to help contribute. Charlie and Raeny Thompson, two youth soccer players in Cazenovia, told their story of why they wanted to help.
"We wanted to help with this cancer problem, so we decided to make these bracelets," Charlie Thompson says. Raeny added, "...to help the cancer people we are going to give these forever bands away for a dollar." Charlie then shouted with authority, "Give all the money to them, to help with their cancer treatments!"
LaFave says the support is indeed overwhelming, but the fact that it was all done through the vehicle of youth soccer strikes a chord with her, especially when it comes to spreading awareness.
"I think that's really important, one of the ways you can reduce the risk is through exercise, so it's great if we can educate our kids...educate our community on how important it is to be active," LaFave says.
On Saturday, that activity turned into support for LaFave and for breast cancer patients everywhere, as not only the parents started the movement, but the children carried it out in their own way. The support is something LaFave will never forget.
"It's made this journey almost a learning experience for me about humanity," LaFave says. "It's amazing how great people really are...especially in Cazenovia."