CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -
As you put on your pink to gear up for Valentine’s Day, you can also remember the community wide effort to Pink Up and create awareness for breast cancer.
This year marks 14 years since the fundraising started, and it’s bigger than ever.
"My mother passed away from breast cancer in 2000, so I wanted to do something in her honor, in her memory," said Cindy Gannon.
Gannon is the former Southeast Missouri State volleyball coach. In 2000, she created a strategy, not for a game, but for helping women in need. She started Dig For Life.
"I look back 14 years and think about all the people that we've been able to help and support through Dig for Life," said Gannon.
The group helps fund mammograms for women in the Heartland who can’t afford them.
"We have about a third of our team that has been affected by their immediate family having breast cancer, beating breast cancer, or still battling it today,” said Julie Yankus.
Yankus took over the Southeast volleyball team after Gannon. Yankus wanted to make sure the players stayed active in the cause. Now, each player raises at least $100 which is the cost of a mammogram for one woman.
"It’s really close to our hearts and something we really take pride in," said Yankus.
"Dig For Life is really important to me because my grandma was actually affected by it so it runs in my family," said Andrea Baylin.
Baylin is a senior volleyball player. She personally knows the importance of the cancer screening.
"Statistically, two of our teammates could get breast cancer because it's one in eight so if we have 16 girls on our team," said Baylin.
Baylin said she’s inspired by the survivors she meets, enjoys wearing the pink jerseys, and likes raising money for the cause with her teammates.
"It just brings the team together and we're playing for something bigger than ourselves," Baylin.
Dig For Life has grown and become part of the Pink Up campaign. It’s spread throughout the community, including other sport teams at Southeast.
"It's really become a community service effort on our part of our athletics department, to really get involved and create awareness for breast cancer," said Gannon.
The Redhawks Women’s Basketball team is getting in on the Pink Up action Saturday, February 22, 2014. $3 from each ticket will go toward a free mammogram.
"It means a lot that everyone can come together because it's not team versus team on this thing, it's all women in general, so it's nice that we can all come together," said Baylin.
You can find other Pink Up events, and find out how you can donate here.