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Amanda Mick is all too familiar with the cruelty of breast cancer, so it was no surprise the college sophomore decided to help strike back at the devastating disease.
Mick, a Defiance native who is a middle blocker on the volleyball team at Owens Community College, led the initiative to establish a Volley for the Cure event this season at the school.
Both her mother and grandmother have battled breast cancer, and the young volleyball player said raising awareness and funds for a cure are paramount in her life.
The pink-themed event, which took place during a game against Sinclair Community College in October, raised funds to help support the local chapter of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.
There was a great feeling about it, Mick said. In the span of two hours we raised $400. Every little bit helps. It gave me chills.
The event included pink volleyballs, and fans and student-athletes wore pink and purchased food and clothing to support the cause. A bake sale and game-ball raffle also were held.
Owens coach Sonny Lewis said he encourages his players to do some type of community service and praised the sophomore for spearheading the event.
Amanda is a very strong person. She s a very family-oriented girl. She s just a great kid, the coach said.
The players who have gone through the Owens volleyball program all have participated in the annual Northwest Ohio Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
The 5K race takes place each fall in downtown Toledo. Participants honor breast cancer survivors and victims at the event, which raised a record $750,000 this September.
We ve done the Race for the Cure as a team the last few years, and we also wanted to do something a little different, Lewis said. Other teams do things like this, and we decided we should get Owens involved.
The Volley for the Cure events have become popular at high schools and colleges nationwide.
We played against another school that did it last season, and I loved the idea, Mick said. I kept bugging Sonny. I really wanted to do it here.
Sophomore middle blocker Brittney Bradner, who is a Cardinal Stritch High School graduate, said the ultimate goal of the Volley for the Cure matches and other such events is to find a cure.
As a woman, I feel that it is our responsibility to raise awareness about an issue that affects so many other women on a daily basis, Bradner said. It is important to give back and help others who are or will be afflicted with this terrible disease.
Mick said her mother, Mary, was told she had breast cancer in 2004.
My mom had it for seven years before they found it, Mick said. She was diagnosed at age 44.
She s in remission right now, she said, but added that her mom is in and out of the hospital as she deals with health issues related to the cancer.
Mick said her grandmother, Esther Fritz, also was diagnosed with the disease a few years before her mother and two of her grandmother s sisters succumbed to the disease.
Because of her family history, Mick said her doctor advised her to begin getting mammograms when she turned 18, rather than waiting until she turned 40 as is recommended for most women.
Basically, my doctor said it s a big possibility that I am going to get it. It stinks to think about it, Mick said. My mom is so particular about every thing I do. I just try to take care of myself.
Lewis said his player has been an inspiration.
It s one of those things you just hope and pray doesn t happen, Lewis said. She ll do what she has to do.
Mick said just about every person knows someone who has been affected by cancer.
It hits home, Mick said. Each time is as devastating as the next. But we re making strides. It has touched so many people.
Lewis, who has been the coach at Owens for eight years, plans to make the Volley for the Cure an annual tradition.
I had others in the Owens community who came up and said they wanted to be involved in it in the future, Lewis said. This will be a big tradition for us every year.
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The coach said it was important that funds went directly to the local chapter of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The national organization, which was established in 1982, has raised more than $1 billion through events like the one held in Perrysburg Township.
Volley for the Cure is getting big and spreading through colleges and high schools, Mick said. It s encouraging.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-304-4760.