Paint the Park Pink makes Spikes 'More Than a Baseball Team'
Shirley Majewsky isn’t a baseball player, but when she took the pitcher’s mound at Medlar Field on Sunday night cheers burst from the crowd.
Majewsky, a cancer survivor from Osceola Mills, had been nominated to throw one of the ceremonial first pitches at the State College Spikes’ annual Paint the Park Pink night.
Majewsky’s niece Heather Maines was part of a group of family and friends that came to see Majewsky’s pitch at the annual breast cancer awareness fundraiser. Though she had never been to a Spikes game before, Maines says she couldn’t think of a better way to experience her first game with State College’s popular minor league team.
“We’re all so excited to be able to honor her like this,” Maines says. “She’s been down a rough road; she really deserves this.”
Sunday’s game against the Hudson Valley Renegades was the setting of an annual partnership between Mount Nittany Health and the Spikes. All proceeds from the event – including those from a popular silent auction for the player’s special breast cancer ribbon jerseys – will benefit The Foundation for Mount Nittany Medical Center.
Dr. Howard Miller, a Mount Nittany Medical Center urologist, was on hand to help spread information about the services available at the hospital. He says many people avoid going to a doctor and learn to adapt to bothersome symptoms, but stresses the importance of early detection – especially for something like breast cancer.
For him, the chance to help raise awareness and funds for breast cancer with the Spikes perfectly captures why he became a doctor.
“I went into medicine for the sense of community,” Miller says. “We live here, and we serve the people that live here. We love having this kind of connection with our patients.”
Majewsky, though not from State College, surely felt a sense of community on the field on Sunday evening. They’d even rolled out a red carpet for her and the other honored group of pitchers, including a couple of lucky children and Lady Lion head coach Coquese Washington.
Majewsky was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2013, shortly after her husband’s retirement. Undergoing treatment at Mount Nittany, she says many doctors and nurses that treated her“felt like they became part of my family.”
When a sister-in-law told Majewsky that she’d nominated Majewsky for Sunday’s first pitch, she was so touched she wept.
“I thought my life was over when I was diagnosed,” Majewsky says. “But now I see my life has just begun.”
Mary Vozniak, as a season ticket holder, comes to every Spikes game – but even before she bought the season pass, she made a point to always help paint the park pink. Having lost a father to cancer, she says the disease touches many families in some way.
She says events like 'Paint the Park Pink' – complete with children’s activities and post-game fireworks – are what make the Spikes important to State College and the surrounding area.
Even though the Spikes lost the game 2-0 after a strong and valiant effort, their drive to bring joy and support the cancer patients, survivors and families could not be defeated.
“This is what makes the Spikes more than a baseball team,” Vozniak says.