Wardlaw-Hartridge School Students Raise Awareness for Breast Cancer

PLAYING FOR A CAUSE - The Wardlaw-Hartridge girls' varsity soccer team wore special pink and white jerseys to support and recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (Photo by Rudy Brandl/Wardlaw-Hartridge)

EDISON — The Wardlaw-Hartridge School community recognized Breast Cancer Awareness month with a series of activities and also raised money for the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure Foundation. The school collected $692 in donations on Pink Day, October 12.

At Morning Meeting that day, senior Brian Downing of Scotch Plains gave a personal account of his mother’s battle with breast cancer in his senior speech in front of a packed crowd filled with people wearing pink to commemorate the cause. Downing shared vivid recollections of his fears and frustrations as a 12-year-old boy learning about his mother’s condition.

Before telling his story, Downing asked anyone who had a family member affected by breast cancer to stand. Most of the students, faculty and staff in the room were standing.

Downing continued to describe the helpless feeling of watching his mother lose her hair and become bald. After 14 days in the hospital, a few difficult years and nine surgeries, his mother has recovered and is now on yearly checkups.

Breast cancer survivors are the fortunate ones, but Downing cautioned that we not forget the many women who die of breast cancer. While there are many survivors of this disease, Downing reported that 40,000 women per year, an average of 110 per day, die of breast cancer.

Downing called his mother “one of the luckiest women on the planet” and quoted the American Cancer Society’s motto that “a world with less breast cancer is a world with more birthdays.”

Brianna Gutierrez of Metuchen was one of the soccer players representing a family member when the varsity girls played in their annual Breast Cancer Awareness Game. Gutierrez played the game in honor of her grandmother.

“During the game, we were not only playing for a win but rather for a larger cause that affects women and men alike. I take pride in playing for a team that recognizes such causes especially one closest to my heart,” Gutierrez said. “My grandmother, Jacqueline Hoff, is a 12-year survivor of breast cancer and having her there at the game as a spectator made me play harder knowing that I was playing for all those women that deserve to be recognized as survivors and those that are currently still fighting. The smile on my grandmother’s face after the game was worth every minute playing. I know I made my grandmother proud that day as I have always been proud of her each and every day.”

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