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BEA powder puff game raises money for breast cancer research, awareness

by on November 22, 2012 11:55 AM

WINGATE — On Nov. 11 on the football field at Bald Eagle Area High School, 54 high school junior and senior girls battled it out at the school’s annual powder puff game. Donned in custom-made sweatshirts and brightly colored leggings, the girls were applauded by coaches, male cheerleaders and family and friends. But they weren’t just playing football. They were raising money in the fight against breast cancer.

Sharon Nilson, a powder puff co-advisor, said although this is the 28th year the school has hosted a powder puff game, this is only the second year it has raised money for breast cancer awareness.

“(This year) they chose the PA Breast Cancer Coalition because the money raised stays in Pennsylvania to help breast cancer patients and survivors,” Nilson, a computer lab monitor, said. Last year’s game benefited Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Nilson said it’s important that high school girls learn about breast cancer because the disease can affect anyone.

“It doesn’t matter your age, race or genetic background,” she said. “Girls need to learn early that doing self-exams and seeing your gynecologist yearly is a beneficial way of early detection for any kind of cancer … insurance companies will not cover mammograms until the age of 40, (and that) could be too late for a diagnosis for some people.”

Before the game the girls were given pink ribbons and bracelets to wear, courtesy of the PA Breast Cancer Coalition.

Nilson said focusing on being proactive with health, instead of reactive, is something that should be taught early on.

“I think the girls need to learn that too, (to) take care of yourself now, pay attention to what your body is telling you, eat right, exercise … A little bit of precaution and common sense will go a long way in everyone’s life.”

Another reason the “pink” game benefits young girls, Nilson said, is that it gives them a chance to talk about family members that have had breast cancer, and how it has affected them.

“It is one way to open dialog and have them think about this issue and how it could … affect them now or later in life,” she said. “I don’t like the thought (of) people being scared (of) doing self-exams or seeing a doctor.”

Nilson said 26 senior girls and 28 junior girls played in the Nov. 11 game. The seniors beat the juniors, 32-6.

Working with co-advisor Vaughn Donmoyer, a technology education teacher, Nilson said she helped prepare the girls for the game through weeks of evening practices, starting at the beginning of the month.

“We practiced the whole week, Monday through Thursday (from) 6 to 8 on the football field under the lights,” Nilson said. “The boys would first get everyone warmed up and stretched out, then they would break them into groups to work on individual abilities and skills. Before practice finished they would start to run through the plays.”

Nilson said the girls played very well, and had a lot of fun.

“The girls really put their hearts and souls into playing,” she said. “It’s almost scary how rough they can be out on the football field. I sometimes think they should play regular football.”

As a result of the game, more than $1,500 was raised for the PA Breast Cancer Coalition, Nilson said.

“Our hopes for next year will be to raise even more money for breast cancer awareness and research, and to help people who are currently undergoing treatment,” she said. “As we do this every year we get a little better. I hope the girls see the importance of this effort and remember it for a lifetime.”

Those who wish to make a donation to the PA Breast Cancer Coalition may send it to Nilson’s attention at BEASD, 751 S. Eagle Valley Road, Wingate, PA 16823. Checks should be made payable to BEA Student Government.

Staff Writer at The Centre County Gazette
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