By Samantha Phillips
The Youngstown State University women’s swimming and diving team will host its fourth annual breast cancer awareness swim meet fundraiser Oct. 23 at 5 p.m.
YSU will face Cleveland State University in the Beeghley Center natatorium and proceeds will benefit the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center. The center — located at St. Elizabeth Health Center — provides prevention, detection, diagnosis and support services for women.
Hanna Martin, a member of the team, said they toured the center.
“It is a wonderful place. You don’t even feel like you’re in a hospital. It’s more of a spa-like setting,” Martin said. “There are these beautiful pictures everywhere, you get soft, silky robes.”
She said they have one of three high-tech screening machines in the entire US.
“It’s really cool to say we have resources like that within such a short distance,” Martin said.
Jacqueline Smith, assistant swimming and diving coach, said the annual fundraiser began a few years ago when Megan Ciampa, a YSU alumna, contacted the center and asked how they could raise money.
“Breast cancer research and the foundation was something that was really important to her. We have grown every year since then, but it’s been a great opportunity to link with a great foundation that’s in Youngstown,” Smith said.
Martin said they raised more than $2,000 for the center so far, but their goal is $3,000. They will hold raffles, sell T-shirts and sell refreshments at a concession stand to meet the goal.
“We’re a women’s only team, so being able to work for something that hits so close to home makes us excited to raise as much money as we can for them,” Martin said.
The community donated products and services to the swim team to help them in their efforts. Giant Eagle provided food and drinks for the concession stand, and a T-shirt company printed shirts and donated $500 to have their company on the back of them.
This year, members of sororities and fraternities will be competing in “floaty relays” for entertainment. They will be given floaties and inner tubes and swim 200 meters while wearing pink suits and caps.
“This is our first year with the Greek relays, so we are hoping that it goes well this year, and they’re hoping to expand upon it next year,” Martin said.
She said they might have two relays next year and get more campus organizations involved.
“It’s definitely something that is going to stick around. It’s not a one and done deal,” Martin said.
Fighting breast cancer isn’t the only cause that the team is passionate about. They volunteer at many events including the Peace Race and the nonviolence parade.
“This is the only one where we had a meet centered around, but we definitely try and volunteer and do as much as we can with a lot of different foundations,” Smith said.
Smith said the fundraiser has been attracting more people every year. She hopes to fill the natatorium this year.
Martin is determined to make it a success.
“We would love to see as many people as we can get to come support the team and then be able to get the word out,” Martin said. “We want to highlight the magnificent work the Joanie Abdu Breast Cancer Center does.”