Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

Breast cancer awareness campaigns are common throughout many North American professional and collegiate sports. Joining the ranks of the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and National Collegiate Athletic Association, McMaster Athletes Cares hosts an annual Think Pink initiative. The student group is made up of current athletes and regularly participates in community service and fundraising initiatives within campus and the greater Hamilton community.

McMaster Athletes Care runs several campaigns during the year such as clothing drives, McMaster Children’s hospital visits, Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton and Think Pink, a week-long breast cancer awareness campaign. Highlights from last week’s events include a range of events, from raffle fundraisers giving away McMaster branded gear and exercise classes, to competitions like Spike Ball tournaments.

Think Pink, with support from the Royal Bank of Canada, aims to raise awareness while also raising funds for the Juravinski Cancer Centre and Bright Run, an annual non-competitive walk or run fundraiser supporting breast cancer research at the JCC. 

By participating in charitable efforts, McMaster Athletes Cares has shown a soft side complementary to the competitive edge of McMaster athletics. This is a step in the right direction as McMaster’s athletes prioritize creating an impact both on and off the courts.

This grassroots effort was specifically chosen to financially support local causes. McMaster Athletes Care felt it would be more effective to donate to local institutions that would invest the funds back into the Hamilton community. 

McMaster Athletes Care felt it would be more effective to donate to local institutions that would invest the funds back into the Hamilton community.

Claudia Continenza, a fifth year defenceman for the women’s soccer team and Think Pink organizer, noted that the group’s decision to support JCC and Bright Run was made to ensure that there was transparency regarding where funds are allocated. 

Continenza’s vision for Think Pink goes further than just how the initiative went this year. She would like to see Think Pink include not only the promotion of breast cancer awareness and research but to support other causes, such as other types of cancer. 

This past April, McMaster Athletics faced the realities of cancer when Joe Valvasori, the head coach of the women’s soccer team passed away following a long battle with stomach cancer. Following this loss, McMaster Athletes Care reflects on expanding on its initiatives and fundraising efforts to include other areas of cancer research to widen its support to the  Hamilton community.

“I think actually one of my hopes, and it might not be the hope of whoever takes over for me next year, but one of my hopes would be that we can expand our horizons beyond just breast cancer research and awareness. Our former head coach Joe [Valvasori] passed from stomach cancer so it’s something that’s really close to our team and we’re putting all this into supporting breast cancer but any progress in cancer is great and a goal of mine is to expand this initiative past just breast cancer,” Continenza said. 

In the experience of participating students and community members, Think Pink is a valuable initiative that creates an opportunity for athletes to actively engage in supporting healthcare and charitable causes in the Hamilton community. While breast cancer researcher remained a focus of this year’s Think Pink campaign, there’s interest in expanding the initiative in the coming year to reflect the evolving needs of our local community. 

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