Baldwin volleyball’s Dig Pink fundraiser a rousing success

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Updated 54 minutes ago

The annual goal is to raise at least $1,000.

The senior members of the Baldwin girls volleyball team not only met their 2017 goal; they almost doubled it.

Each year, Baldwin’s senior netters, with assistance from their parents, oversee the Dig Pink fundraising event as part of their senior project.

It serves a dual purpose: to raise breast cancer awareness, and to make a donation to a breast cancer organization.

Baldwin’s senior team members consist of Emelia Zandier, Brianna Phillips, Brenna Green, Marissa Meis, Erica Blanner, Alana Price and Megan Moskiewski.

“Our Dig Pink game that we play every year is very important to me personally,” Zandier said. “My grandmother (Patricia Zandier), a Baldwin High School graduate, was diagnosed with breast cancer six months before I was born, and had a mastectomy the day after I was born. She was in remission for 17 years until unfortunately this past August she passed away from lung cancer. My family donated $500 in her memory and honor to celebrate her 17 years (of being) breast cancer-free.

“Had she not survived breast cancer, she would never have seen any of my cousins, sisters, or I succeed in our sports and academic lives. Her grandkids were her first priority, and we could always count on her cheering us on in the stands.”

This year’s Dig Pink event took place earlier this month at the Highlanders’ home game against Upper St. Clair.

Money was raised by selling T-shirts, purchasing pink ribbons to hang in the gym hallway, a basket raffle with donations made by area businesses, and a volleyball-serving contest (at the Dig Pink event) that rewarded participants with gift cards to area locations.

“We went around to different stores asking for donations for our raffle baskets, and for prizes for our serving contest,” Phillips said. “At the game, we sold raffle tickets and pink ribbons for people to hang up on the wall in memory of a loved one who had breast cancer, or to recognize a loved one that is fighting it.

“We also made posters to hang around the school, and designed T-shirts to sell.”

Local girls volleyball programs were invited to the game. This year, teams from Harrison Middle School and St. Gabriel and St. Elizabeth grade schools participated.

“We do this to not only recognize the school teams, but also to help them see and want to be a part of the Baldwin volleyball program,” said Marsha Green, Brenna’s mother and team photographer. “We want to show them that being a part of the team is not just about playing the game but also being a part of the community.

“All the senior parents help the girls to make sure everything gets done ahead of time. The night of the Dig Pink, the parents sell the raffle tickets and any extra T-shirts we may have.”

Money raised by this year’s Dig Pink project will be donated to METAvivor, which is, in general terms, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of advanced breast cancer and equity in research and patient support.

Specifically, METAvivor is dedicated to the fight of women and men living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. At the time of METAvivor’s founding, no organization was dedicated to funding research for the disease, and no patient groups were speaking out about the scarcity of stage 4 cancer research.

It’s research mission is two-fold: to increase awareness about the funding discrepancy that shortchanges metastatic research in the cancer world, and to directly fund the kind of research that is currently lacking.

With the primary goal of extending life and ending death from MBC, METAvivor awards grants for research projects that have the potential to shift MBC from a terminal disease to a chronic condition with a decent quality of life.

“Our coach actually found this foundation for us,” Zandier said. “We all decided to donate to it because unlike other organizations, METAvivor receives 100 percent of the money, and they mainly focus on patients with stage 4 cancer. They exist to sustain hope for those living with stage 4 breast cancer. They are the only organization in the U.S. that exclusively funds research.

“This foundation really hit home for me since my Grammy had stage 2 breast cancer but later was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and given little hope.”

Zandier, an athletic defender who used to play soccer and basketball, has a 4.0 GPA. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Bridge Builders, Special Olympics program, Math League and da Vincian Society.

Zandier designed the T-shirts that were sold at the Dig Pink fundraiser.

“I’m not very artistic when it comes to drawing or painting, but I always loved photography,” she said. “My freshman year, I took graphic design, and designing has come pretty natural to me ever since. I enjoy designing and editing pictures.”

Baldwin zipped past Canon-McMillan, 3-0, earlier this week to extend its record to 9-1 in section play. The Highlanders held a one-game lead on Upper St. Clair (8-2) atop the section standings.

“Our season is going well,” Zandier said. “Our coach emphasizes that there is always room for improvement. Losing to Peters (Township) was an eye-opener for all of us and really helped set us straight in our focus.

“We plan to take it game by game and not get too ahead of ourselves. We are excited to see how the rest of the season will play out, but we are striving to reach our goal of returning to the WPIAL finals for a fourth year in a row.”

Phillips, an energetic middle blocker, has a 3.9 GPA and, like Zandier, is involved many extracurricular activities at Baldwin. Phillips is a member of the National Honor Society, Math League, Special Olympics program and Bridge Builders. She also is the senior class prom chairman.

“Our strength as a team is that we are close, especially the senior class,” she said. “We are best friends on and off the court. We all love playing together since most of us have played together before coming to high school volleyball.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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