In 2012, The Pembroke Girls Basketball Team decided to use their passion for playing basketball as a platform from which to host a fundraiser for breast cancer research at Roswell Park in support of a community member. As a result, the girls and their coaches organized an annual event, naming it "Shooting For A Cure!" through which they raised over $30,000 in contributions for Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) in past four seasons.
On Tuesday, the team played to the buzzer in their fifth annual Shooting For A Cure! game and raised $10,287.16, making their total RPCI donation over $40,000 since the event’s inception. During an emotional halftime ceremony, the team honored 18 cancer survivors, personifying their dedication to this cause.
Coach Ron Funke and his Pembroke Girls Basketball Team will present the full proceeds of their latest fundraiser to RPCI officials in the hospital lobby this Friday at 2:30 p.m. It’s a post-game tradition that Funke acknowledges has great meaning to the program.
“These girls are the driving force behind this fundraiser," Funke said. "What started many years ago in support of my wife’s diagnosis has continued to grow each season. The girls on this team are incredibly compassionate individuals.
"A few weeks ago they volunteered at the Carly’s Club Christmas party and rang bells for the Salvation Army. This group is truly special. Yet I have to say that the most meaningful part of Shooting For A Cure! is always visiting Roswell to donate what’s been raised.
"The girls once again put on their pink jerseys and travel to Roswell to present a check to hospital officials. Being there at the hospital, surrounded by people who are actually fighting their own battle against cancer never fails to inspire the girls. It’s a tangible reminder of how their efforts off the court are saving lives.”
More than a dozen alumni players from the previous Shooting For A Cure! events were in attendance last night, helping to run raffles and contests as well as cheering on the current team. Alumni Cora Erb (Class of 2013) hasn’t missed a game since its commencement.
“Playing in the first two Shooting For A Cure! games meant so much to me, not only because it’s for a great cause, but also because I lost someone very close to my heart from cancer," Cora said. "When I stepped on that court I played my heart out knowing in some way that I made my father proud.
"I come back every year to show my continued support for these girls and this cause. I know what it’s like to lose someone from cancer and I know I would want their support, just as they have mine.”
Dannielle DellaPenta (Class of 2014), a three-time game alumna, was also in attendance last night.
“The annual Shooting For A Cure! game means a lot to me," Dannielle said. "It brings our community together in support of others, focusing on the bigger picture in life. There is a sense of togetherness in our community.
"It’s about honoring those who have won their fight, supporting those who are still battling and memorializing those who we’ve lost. This event is simply beautiful and I'm forever grateful for the opportunity to still be a part of something so amazing.
"You never know if, when or who may be affected by cancer. Seeing so many people come together brings teams, families and communities together. When people come together like this they accomplish great things.”
The hallways surrounding the gymnasium were lined with balloons, decorations, photos and raffle tables. The basket raffle had more than 80 basket items to choose from, including donated items from various merchants and community members. There were three different raffles to choose from, highlighted by an Autographed Jack Eichel jersey, PlayStation 4 gaming system and diamond ring.
In addition to the raffles, the cafeteria was serving up slices of pizza from local area pizzerias, Original Pizza Logs, Perry’s Ice Cream and a variety of beverages donated by Coca-Cola Bottling Company. The cafeteria was uniquely set up and renamed “Mr. Brown’s Snack Shack” for the evening paying homage to its perennial coordinator, Arron Brown.
The list of WNY companies, vendors and individuals who donated to Shooting For A Cure! numbers more than 90, including 26 Shirts, Batavia’s Original, Big Pauly’s Pizza, Buffalo Bandits, Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Bisons, Buffalo Sasbres, Carly’s Club, Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Darien Lake Theme Park, Insty-Prints, Kendall’s Impressive Marks, LaPaloma Pizzeria, Mac Tools, Manitoba Corporation, Minute Print, NFL Films, Original Pizza Logs, Party City, Perry’s Ice Cream, Petals to Please, Russell’s Steaks, Chops & More, Target, Tim Horton’s, Tony’s Pizza, Yancey’s Fancy, and YMCA of Batavia.
Additionally, online donations are still being accepted at the team’s online fundraising page: (https://www.crowdrise.com/shooting4acure).
RPCI officially sanctioned the fifth annual Shooting For A Cure! game as an official Team Cure fundraiser and as a valuable example of the way that young people today can make a difference.
“It’s inspirational to have a group of teens who are so passionate about raising critically-needed funds for cancer research at Roswell Park," said Julia Harvey, Team Cure coordinator. "These girls continue to demonstrate an incredible amount of compassion.
"To think in one evening that this group of young women, with the support of Coach Ron Funke, Mike and Jen Wilson as well as their entire community, were able to raise over $10,000 is remarkable!
"This small community has a big heart! They continue to amaze us every year with this event. To think that this small school district has raised over $40,000 in five seasons is extraordinary!”