The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Connecticut high school sports on many levels, including annual October fundraisers for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
In the past, many programs have dedicated a game to the their fundraising with admission fees, in-game raffles and even passing the hat around in the stands as the main generators of revenue. The games have become annual events at many schools, with teams often wearing special pink uniforms, socks, headbands and other clothing. But with limitations on spectators, some teams have had to be creative with fundraisers and others have opted to skip their fundraising event entirely. Two organizations that benefit from high school Breast Cancer Awareness fundraisers — Play4TheCure and Connecticut Breast Health Initiative — said they have felt the revenue pinch that includes reduced high school fundraisers.
Guilford field hockey coach Kitty Palmer is one person who anticipated the impact of having no spectators this season.
“We knew we wouldn’t be able to have fans, therefore we wouldn’t collect any money for breast cancer,” Palmer said. “As a result the team decided to have a one-day car wash on Sept. 13 and all the proceeds went to Play4TheCure.”
The Stafford field hockey team usually does bake sales and raffles at a game to raise money for Play4TheCure. But due to no fans in the stands, the team opted to raise money with a GoFundMe online fundraiser. The team has raised $1,825 as of Sunday.
Although there will be no fans in the stands, the Stafford field hockey team will hold its annual Play4TheCure pink game on Oct. 28 when it hosts E.O. Smith..
Berlin girls soccer coach Alex Johnson said his team will hold a Breast Cancer Awareness game on Oct. 27 against Rocky Hill at Sage Park at 6 p.m.
“We will still have our annual game,” Johnson said. “COVID has only impacted the event in regards to that we can’t have visiting spectators to increase our nominal donation.”
Because there are teams that rely strictly on fans making donations during games for their Breast Cancer Awareness Month fundraiser, some have decided to forego a fundraiser this season.
“We aren’t holding any Breast Cancer Awareness Month fundraisers this year at our school,” Pomperaug athetic director Ron Plasky said. “Normally we do, but without many fans and no gate, we have decided not to.”
The North Branford field hockey team usually designates an October home game for a fundraising event. But it decided not to this season.
“We opted to put our energy into each day of the season rather than do any fundraising,” North Branford field hockey coach Babby Nuhn said. “Typically, we hold a special bake sale, sell pink breast cancer items, and have a donation for one of our home games.
“In the past we also had a link to make donations online. We raised over $ 1,200 last year for the National Foundation for Cancer Research (Play4TheCure).”
Joyce Bray, president of Connecticut Breast Health Initiative, said all non profits are suffering financially due to the impact of COVID-19. This includes the impact on school fundraisers
“The Connecticut Breast Health Initiative is committed to raising funds to award grants to Connecticut breast cancer researchers,” Bray said. “We are having trouble doing that. How do we tell our researchers to halt their important and leading edge work?
“But several groups have come forward to do fundraisers for Connecticut BHI this month. Smalley Elementary School in New Britain and Farmington High soccer are among the school sports teams raising a good amount for us now and we are extremely appreciative of them all.”
The Connecticut BHI website (CTBHI.org) also offers ways to create your own fundraising events and you can donate at the site at https://www.ctbhi.org/donate.
Play4TheCure is the sport fundraising program for the National Foundation for Cancer Research. According to the NFCR website (NFCR.org), Play4TheCure provides funding worldwide for scientists to enable cutting edge research. Another goal of the Play4TheCure program is to inspire young athletes and their teams to leverage their passion for sports to “Play4” loved ones affected by cancer.
Play4TheCure officials anticipated the impact of COVID-19.
“We have seen a reduction in the number of teams registered for Play4TheCure,” said Francesca Montalto, the marketing and events coordinator for Play4TheCure. “Play4TheCure anticipated the inability of teams to hold large in-person events, so we created a virtual fundraising playbook with ideas on how teams can continue to support Play4TheCure and research at the National Foundation for Cancer Research.
“We have seen a reduction in the number of Play4TheCure teams that have registered this year. Fall is our busiest season, and we rely on our fall teams to help Play4TheCure reach its annual goal. It’s difficult when fewer teams are registering.”
Despite the COVID-19 impact, Montalto said participants are still motivated.
“We have had extensive communications with our Play4TheCure teams and many are interested in hosting virtual events to continue their support for cancer research,” Montalto said. “I don’t think our problem is the lack of interest, rather it’s the physical inability to host an event, which is, again, why we have been promoting virtual fundraising.
“One of our top teams hosted a virtual run-a-thon over the summer. Another top team hosted a virtual raffle basket giveaway, a transition from their traditional in-person raffle basket giveaway. Many of the teams that continue to stay motivated are teams that have been committed to Play4TheCure and cancer research for a long time, and have donated thousands of dollars to the cause over the years. They have been creative with their fundraising efforts in a difficult year, and this creativity is helping our cancer scientists.”
To make a donation at Play4TheCure, you can go to this link https://secure.nfcr.org/page/contribute/play4thecure. For more information you can go to https://www.nfcr.org/get-involved/p4tc/ or email Play4TheCure@nfrc.org. The virtual fundraising playbook that Montalto mentioned can be found at https://www.nfcr.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Play4TheCure-Virtual-Playbook-2020.pdf.
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