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East Meadow takes 'Dig Pink' mantra to homecoming

East Meadow High School cheerleaders Alexis Valdez and

East Meadow High School cheerleaders Alexis Valdez and Nata Mushkudiani sold pink footballs to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month during homecoming festivities on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. Photo Credit: Matthew Creegan

East Meadow High School students showed their support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month at their homecoming game against Baldwin last Saturday. Selling pink footballs and sporting pink accessories, the students raised funds and awareness for the disease, which according to the American Cancer Society affects approximately 230,000 newly diagnosed women each year.

East Meadow cheerleaders Alexys Valdez and Nata Mushkudiani were among those who sold novelties for the cause during homecoming. They also joined the more than 65,000 people marching in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Jones Beach, an initiative of the American Cancer Society, on Oct. 18.

Spanning five miles, the walk raised $2.7 million toward breast cancer research.

Last year, East Meadow varsity volleyball coach Patricia Burnside and her team joined the Side-Out Foundation, a national volleyball organization, to play in a fundraiser for the fight against breast cancer.

This year, they're teaming up again for Side-Out's Dig Pink Campaign on Friday, for a schoolwide event as Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close.

"Traditionally it was for volleyball," Burnside said. "But the athletic director, Kevin Regan, thought it would be a good idea to expand it to a schoolwide event."

Friday's Dig Pink event will feature all of the school's athletic teams competing in events and raffling of prizes donated by the community. "Parents help," Burnside said. "Everyone gets involved."

She said that this cause in particular unites the school and the community because it's such a prolific disease that hits so many Long Island residents close to home, including her.

"My own cousin died from it at age 42," she said.

"Everyone writes on the ball who they're playing for," Burnside said. "Everyone plays for somebody."

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