Dig Pink digs for a cure

Volleyball event, Dig Pink, springs off Breast Cancer Awareness month by hosting a volleyball match that raises funds for the Side-Out foundation.  

Breast Cancer Awareness month started in 1985 to raise awareness and funds for Breast Cancer research since then it has turned into an international health campaign. To support the cause, volleyball teams partner with the Side-Out foundation hosting Dig Pink games annually.

“Dig Pink was more than just dressing up in a bunch of pink and playing volleyball, it has a deep message about bringing awareness to breast cancer which is a real problem for a lot of people,” said junior Lydia Nelson “A lot of women struggle with it [breast cancer] later in their life so being a part of something, that meant so much to so many people, felt very surreal.”

Originally starting at WS, freshman volleyball coach and position specialist coach Rick Dunetz created the Side-Out Foundation after learning his mother, Gloria, was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. His first idea was to raise money through volleyball games and share his mother’s story.

“The impact is why we started Side-Out and to know we have connected hundreds of thousands of volleyball players to invest in our vision and mission and to become advocates for people living with metastatic breast cancer…it’s just really cool,” said Dunetz. “ It took a lot of hard work and a little luck to get us where we are today.”

Throughout ten years of operation, the Side-Out Foundation has raised fifteen million dollars for metastatic breast cancer clinical research. Every two-thousand dollars raised funds one person’s research, so the foundation can continue to learn and understand the disease.

“When you do clinical research, helping a large number of people is not easy to do. Getting patients to just participate in the research is such a great challenge that the numbers are not as large as we would have liked,” said Dunetz. “However, we are now in a position to help thousands of people all over the country with the Side-Out MBC Research Program. Every patient in the program gets a super detailed analysis of their cancer that empowers them to make informed decisions about their cancer journey.”

Along with the research efforts of the Side-Out MBC Research Program, volleyball players work hard through their volleyball efforts to raise funds to continue researching.

“To set up for Dig Pink we made posters, gathered everything and anything pink to wear, decorated the gym, and most importantly spread the word,” said senior volleyball captain Alana Tomayo. “To fundraise, each individual player created a fundraiser page connected to the Dig Pink/Side-Out Foundation for the whole month of October.”

Dig Pink not only becomes a special event for the patients, but for the athletes and community who embody the hopeful and lively spirits that raise awareness throughout the night. 

“One of my favorite parts of Dig Pink is how it brings together the community. There are people you never would normally talk to, but you now find yourselves having conversations with them and wanting to hear their stories,” said Nelson. “Dig Pink highlights the community by bringing everyone together.”

Through the efforts of Dig Pink and the Side-Out Foundation, they’re helping not only breast cancer patients but also the cancer community as a whole.

“As someone who has cancer, [which] runs in the family, I think that [events] like Dig Pink are really beneficial for the whole cancer community even though it targets breast cancer [since] it also affects the other sides of cancer,” said sophomore Hayden. “A [research] breakthrough in breast cancer could help other cancers because they’re all related and use the same therapies.”