Carolanne Habeeb implored her mom to get a mammography in 2008. Soon after spearheading Massapequa's first "Dig Pink" fundraiser, the girls volleyball coach thought it would be hypocritical if she didn't urge her own mother to get screened for breast cancer.
"I kept getting on her about it," said Habeeb, who lost her father and grandmother to cancer. "She eventually went and that's when they diagnosed her."
Habeeb's mother underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment and now, Habeeb said, is a six-year survivor.
But that ordeal reinforced for her the importance of "Dig Pink," and events like it, which seek to raise awareness of the disease and money for the American Cancer Society and the Side-Out Foundation. Several other schools have established similar October fundraisers.
"Dig Pink" has grown each year and last Monday, senior Allie Dillon said, "we probably had the biggest turnout yet." Massapequa's gym, adorned in pink, was crammed with supporters who helped raise thousands for cancer research. (They also saw the girls volleyball victory over Baldwin to earn a conference title.)
"I think people are shocked when you give them the stat that one in three women will be diagnosed [with breast cancer]," Habeeb said. "It's scary."
In its seven years, Habeeb said, "Dig Pink" has pulled in more than $53,000 through the sale of food and clothes, raffles and community donations. Massapequa's teams this fall also have raised $2,700 with coin collection.
"It's awesome to see how much it's spread and become a schoolwide event," said Dillon, who has participated in the event since 2008. "It's great to see the support and people taking it seriously because the disease affects so many people."