Tuesday, October 30, 2012

AFL Joining The Breast Cancer Fight

The month of October has had you seeing pink! To raise awareness and research funds for breast cancer, many organizations nationwide have made efforts to keep top of mind the disease that impacts so many women, their families, friends and colleagues. The Arena Football League is happy to do its part in helping to raise awareness and funds to combat a disease that affects many of our players, front office staff and fans.
Chicago Rush President and General Manager, Roger Wexelberg was impacted by breast cancer after his sister was diagnosed 10 years ago.
“My sister had to go through chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy,” Wexelberg said. “Needless to say, it was a huge shock and a lot ofanxious moments for everyone in our family.”
Many teams throughout the League have joined in the fight against breast cancer by choosing one game each season and designating it as the breast cancer awareness game. San Antonio, Iowa and Milwaukee all held games to help raise awareness. The game included pink gloves, chinstraps, sweatbands and a football with a pink stripe. When Iowa auctioned off autographed pink striped footballs during the game, the auction alone raised $2,000 for breast cancer research. Similarly, San Antonio auctioned autographed pink gloves and wristbands. Proceeds which reached $2,500 went toward breast cancer research as well.
Iowa’s game held a great deal of meaning for Barnstormers’ linebacker David Bedford, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier in the season.
“I was up in Iowa and I found out during a game week so I wasn’t able to go home or anything,” Bedford said. “I dealt with it up there with the team.”
During the pregame presentation, Bedford spoke to the local media about his mother and the importance of raising funds and awareness for the disease.
“It meant a lot to me to be a part of our awareness night,” Bedford said.
Bedford used his teammates as his support system while he coped with his mother’s diagnosis.
“My teammates came up to me and told me how they are all going to pray for me, so they were great,” Bedford said. “The coaches asked me if I wanted to take some time off and I told them I could deal with it but at the same time continue to play.”
While the National Football League may have led the charge to bring awareness to the disease during October, the AFL is able to shed light upon the issue of breast cancer during months where it might go unnoticed.
“The League is doing a great job because obviously October is the big month for awareness and that’s when most people are thinking about it but we need awareness year-round and it’s important to have other months with breast cancer awareness games,” Bedford said.
Wexelberg’s sister is now a 10-year survivor of the disease.
“It just makes you grateful in our case that everything is alright but it also makes you think about the families and the people that aren’t so lucky,” Wexelberg said.
Bedford also shared good news regarding his mother’s condition.
“She is done with all of the chemo that she is required to do. Scans have come back clear but I am sure that the doctors will definitely be keeping an eye on it,” Bedford said. “She is ten-times stronger than I am so I knew she would be fine and that she would be able to beat it.”
While both Bedford and Wexelberg agree that the League has done a good job raising awareness and funds for breast cancer, there is always room for improvement.
“Bringing the awareness level up is hugely important,” Wexelberg said.  “Then conversely making that parlay into dollars because at the end of the day that’s what we need to make sure families don’t go through it in the future.”

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