Join MSG Varsity team on breast cancer walk

Gregg Sarra

Newsday Columnist Gregg Sarra Gregg Sarra

Gregg Sarra is Newsday's high school sports columnist and writer.

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This is the fifth anniversary of the very first time I set out on the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Jones Beach State Park.

It is an empowering experience. The popularity of the walk signifies that there is awareness in our community that breast cancer has no bias and can touch anyone. An even more frightening thought -- it comes without warning.

There is nothing more disturbing than to hear a young student-athlete tell of the heartache of a mother or grandmother battling the disease. Or worse, losing the battle.

The 3.5-mile walk is an uplifting experience good for the mind and body. The mind sees that we are not alone in this battle. The body gets a healthy workout.

The storylines are endless. The bottom line -- we need to find a cure. High school student-athletes have it figured out. There are Dig Pink volleyball tournaments, Kicks For Cancer soccer tournaments and Coaches vs. Cancer basketball tournaments. Educators turn athletic events into viable fundraisers and at the same time teach student-athletes the importance of giving back to the community.

I am the captain of a very important team next Sunday morning at Jones Beach State Park. We put our game faces on at 10 a.m. and walk the boardwalk with more than 50,000 others in this fight.

My goal is to reach out to all the student-athletes in every high school on Long Island and implore them to join me in the walk. Wear your school jerseys and walk with our team -- MSG Varsity.

I promise you will be inspired. You will see teams of families celebrating survivors and teams in memory of loved ones lost. It becomes an event of hope and provides the people who are in the battle some comfort.

The boardwalk will envelop walkers of every age, every ethnicity, every religion. There will be teams of cheerleaders, kick-lines, field hockey, soccer and football teams. Rob Shaver's Plainedge football is always there -- you can't miss them.

Dana Schmitt will also be there and has been for seven years. She lost her mother Paula to breast cancer four years ago but had been an advocate for breast cancer research long before her mother's passing. She joined the walk at Jones Beach to help spread the word on the importance for yearly mammograms at Sloan Kettering in Commack.

"It is so energizing to see the community come together as one," said Schmitt, who celebrated her 44th birthday last week. "It's a hard month, but it's also a good month. We all go pink this month, everything pink. I strongly urge all women to go for their yearly mammograms -- it really saves lives."

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society's lifesaving research, prevention, and early detection protocols changed the landscape of how we deal with the disease. They are saving lives.

To join the MSG Varsity team go to the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer website; www.makingstrideswalk.org/. Go to team name and type in MSG Varsity and sign up. See you on the boardwalk.