Record-breaking Pink Zone donates $310,000 to breast cancer charities

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State Lady Lion basketball team continued their fight against breast cancer in record-breaking style as the 2014 Pink Zone at Penn State saw the Lady Lions donate $310,000 to six breast cancer charities, breaking the stated fundraising goal of $300,000. The funds raised by the 2014 Pink Zone at Penn State were donated to charities on the local, state and national level and included Mount Nittany Medical Center, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, Kay Yow Cancer Fund, J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital and Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital.

In addition to donating a record amount to breast cancer charities, the Lady Lions also surpassed the one million dollar mark for fundraising in the Pink Zone's eight-year history. In eight Pink Zone annual events, the Lady Lions have now donated $1,135,317.73 to various breast cancer charities.

"This was another outstanding year for Pink Zone and it's continued growth amazes me year in and year out," Lady Lion Basketball head coach Coquese Washington said. "The Pink Zone at Penn State has such a huge impact, not just in our community, but regionally and nationally and we are so proud to be a leader in the women's basketball community in this fight against breast cancer. We can't thank our sponsors, fans and, of course, the breast cancer survivors that make the Pink Zone at Penn State such a special event."

"The moment I realized we had surpassed our fundraising goal this year honestly brought tears to my eyes," Pink Zone at Penn State Executive Director Miriam Powell said. "There are so many people who work behind the scenes to make Pink Zone at Penn State successful. When the moment arrived when we realized our hard work had literally paid off, there was an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction combined with complete awe and amazement. The money we raise is used in such impactful ways, and the list of folks who make this all possible is impressively long. We are so lucky to have supportive community partners, enthusiastic beneficiaries, generous sponsors and committed volunteers. I'm incredibly proud to be in a position to help lead this organization to continued success. I can't wait to see what Pink Zone holds for Penn State in 2015."

The Lady Lions' 2014 Pink Zone game received an additional $90,000 from in-kind donors from many local and regional businesses, including Fullington Trailways, Bailey Coach, Beiber Bus Company, Susquehanna Trailways, Klein Transportation, Centre Daily Times, Jersey Mike's Subs, Giant Foods, Chip Mock, Blue Banana Designs, Ricoh, Comcast, WTAJ, Forever Broadcasting, 93.5 3WZ, B94.5, the Bryce Jordan Center, and Best Event Rental.

The Lady Lions welcomed a record 698 breast cancer survivors and 12,585 fans to the Bryce Jordan Center as Penn State took on Wisconsin on February 16, 2014. The Lions topped the Badgers, 78-68, in front of the sixth-largest crowd in BJC history as they honored breast cancer survivors and generated awareness for the fight against breast cancer. Additionally, the Lady Lions were selected as the Play 4Kay Division I winner for their efforts in raising funds and awareness for breast cancer for the second-straight year.

After using previous Pink Zone funding to open the "Penn State Lady Lion Basketball Cancer Resource Center" at Mount Nittany Medical Center's Shaner Cancer Pavilion and to purchase a breast specimen imager, Mount Nittany will use this year's Pink Zone monies to fund a five-year position for a breast health navigator. The hospital has selected Angelique Cygan, an RN who will lead efforts for breast health navigation, education and outreach, to fill this position. Cygan is someone who can help remove the many barriers patients may experience in receiving timely and well-coordinated care. The purpose of this position is to decrease fragmentation of care, coordinate services and guide patients seeking breast care through the health care system. This will allow for continuity of care and reassurance to the patient as they walk through the entire diagnosis and treatment process on their journey to survivorship.

"Mount Nittany Health is once again deeply grateful for the amazing generosity of the Pennsylvania Pink Zone," Steve Brown, FACHE, president and CEO, Mount Nittany Health said. "In addition to the Lady Lion Basketball Cancer Resource Center, which opened in 2012 at the Lance and Ellen Shaner Cancer Pavilion at Mount Nittany Medical Center, the Pink Zone's 2013 gift enabled Mount Nittany Health to hire a dedicated breast health navigator. Thanks to the partnership between the Pink Zone, Lady Lion Basketball, and Mount Nittany Health, our breast cancer patients now have the support they need to navigate through early detection, treatment, and survivorship."

Through past Pink Zone at Penn State funds, the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute activated the Lady Lion Basketball Breast Cancer Research Endowment. The monies from this year's Pink Zone at Penn State will continue to grow the endowment level of the Lady Lion Basketball Breast Cancer Research Endowment. Funds from the Lady Lion Basketball Breast Cancer Research Endowment have been used to support the research efforts of Karam E. El-Bayoumy, Ph.D., department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Penn State College of Medicine; Andrea Manni, M.D., Penn State Hershey Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism; and Jack Vanden Heuvel, Ph.D., Professor of Molecular Toxicology, College of Agricultural Sciences, Penn State University. Their research focuses on testing a novel approach to breast cancer prevention by combining lower doses of antiestrogens with a healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This strategy maximizes safety, since antiestrogens at lower doses may be less toxic, and diet right in omega-3 fatty acids would be expected to have health other benefits in addition to protection from breast cancer. Based on the mechanisms of interaction between omega-3 fatty acids and antiestrogens, the prediction is that such intervention will reduce the development of both hormone dependent and independent tumors.

"Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute is honored to be a beneficiary of Pink Zone's fundraising efforts," Dr. Cristina Truica, Director, Breast Medical Oncology, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute said. "This vital partnership enables us to strengthen and better our commitment to fighting cancer on every front: through education and prevention, early detection and diagnosis, effective treatment, and survivorship programs."

The Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition will continue to use funding from Pink Zone to maintain a special pink wrap on the organization's van that is used as a mobile billboard for breast cancer awareness as they travel the state supporting the needs of women facing breast cancer. In 2014, the PBCC plans to continue the aforementioned programs while also using Pink Zone funds to support the Refunds for Research initiative. This program allows individuals to include a donation from their income-tax return to fund research grants for breast cancer researchers in our state. In this age of technology, filing income taxes electronically is gaining in popularity. Unfortunately, when filing this way, the option to include a donation does not exist if no refund is received. The PBCC is dedicated to providing three of these $50,000 grants to Pennsylvania-based researchers each year.

"The PA Breast Cancer Coalition is truly grateful to Pink Zone, the Penn State Lady Lions and the entire staff of Penn State Athletics, not only for continuing to support our programs and services in PA, but for empowering breast cancer survivors every year at this incredible event," PA Breast Cancer Coalition President and Founder, Pat Halpin-Murphy said. "Your dedication has allowed the PBCC to provide a network of strength and knowledge for thousands of women in our state. Together, we will find a cure for breast cancer... so our daughters won't have to. Thank you, Pink Zone!"

The Kay Yow Cancer Fund, which is named for former N.C. State women's basketball coach Kay Yow, is a charitable organization committed to being a part of finding an answer in the fight against women's cancers through raising money for scientific research, assisting the underserved and unifying people for a common cause. The Kay Yow Fund awards a $50,000 to $100,000 research grant to fund a cancer research project at a Cancer Center in the host city of that year's NCAA Women's Final Four in conjunction with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) National Convention. In addition to supporting research, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund will use Pink Zone at Penn State funds to assist in purchasing equipment for a mobile digital mammography unit that provides hundreds of screenings for underinsured and uninsured women.

"The partnership between the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, Pennsylvania Pink Zone and Penn State University women's basketball is very meaningful," Sue Donohoe, Kay Yow Cancer Fund Executive Director said. "We are so appreciative of the Pennsylvania Pink Zone's efforts to raise awareness and funding to support women's cancer research. Penn State's annual pink game is a remarkable celebration of strength and survivorship. Because of the support from the Pennsylvania Pink Zone and Penn State University, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund has been able to carry our Coach Yow's mission of supporting women's cancer research. Thank you Pennsylvania Pink Zone and Penn State University."

J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital will use funds raised through Pink Zone at Penn State to support a breast health coordinator. The breast health coordinator would be responsible for coordinating education and outreach with the rural women of Huntingdon County and their health care providers to promote breast health screening for the earliest possible detection of breast cancer. The addition of this position would allow J.C. Blair to continue to engage the community and promote the importance of mammography screenings for uninsured and underinsured women in their area.

"J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital in Huntingdon is developing a more comprehensive approach to breast care in a rural environment thanks to the funding from the Pennsylvania Pink Zone," Maria Pettinger, M.D., Medical Director of J.C. Blair Women's Imaging Center said. "The monies from the Pennsylvania Pink Zone will enable us to have a coordinated approach to breast health with dedicated breast surgical services and with care transition by our breast health navigator. Without the Pink Zone, we would not be able to provide this high quality service to the people of Huntingdon County."

Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital has utilized Pink Zone funding in the past to purchase a tetherless vacuum-assisted biopsy system to help improve diagnostic care to patients in the breast care center at the hospital. This device allows for a larger tissue sample size that results in a more reliable diagnosis. Patient benefits include a more comfortable testing procedure, less time, and a better sample than other tests used. In 2014, Geisinger-Lewistown will purchase supine and prone immobilizers needed for radiation treatments that have become the standard of care following a lumpectomy. These immobilizers will greatly improve care and decrease risks involved as part of breast-cancer treatment while also providing the newest and best techniques in treatment delivery.

"We are proud to be a supporter of the Pink Zone at Penn State and feel very privileged to be a beneficiary of this tremendously successful fundraising effort," Kay Hamilton, Chief Administrative Officer for Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital said. "At Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital, we have always done our best to provide excellent care for our cancer patients. The monies we received from the Pennsylvania Pink Zone helps us continue to improve that mission - excellent care for our cancer patients right here at home."

The Lady Lions express special thanks to the following primary sponsors for their strong support of the 2014 Pink Zone game at Penn State: Mount Nittany Medical Center, Kish Bank, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital, Giant Foods, Jeanne Arnold, Jersey Mike's Subs, Town & Gown, Penn State Bookstore, Penn State Athletics, Penn State Alumni Association, and the Tombros Foundation.

For more information on the Pink Zone at Penn State or to donate, visit the official Pink Zone website at www.pennsylvaniapinkzone.org. The 2014 Pink Zone at Penn State date will be announced when the Big Ten schedule is revealed in August.

The Lady Lions are on Twitter. Follow sports information contact Kris Petersen (@ladylionsid) and the Lady Lions and coaches (@pennstatewbb) to get the inside scoop. The Lady Lions are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pennstateladylions.  

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Last Updated July 11, 2014