By Amanda Joerndt
The 18th annual Pink Ribbon Cheer Classic hosted by the Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority brought competition to the floor to raise money for breast cancer research, awareness and education on Oct. 21 at Youngstown State University.
The ZTA sorority raises money and awareness for breast cancer research through hosting events that bring students and community members together.
Every year, the sorority brings hundreds of cheer and dance teams together in an exhibition to show their skills and abilities and win different awards throughout the day.
In 2001, a member of ZTA wanted to combine her love for cheerleading and raising awareness for breast cancer research through her sorority which led to the start of PRCC. The event was originally held in a high school and now has over 100 teams participating in the Beeghly Center Gymnasium.
Teams of all ages from different districts came together to support each other and bring recognition to breast cancer survivors at the end of the competition. The survivor ceremony allowed all breast cancer survivors to walk onto the floor and be recognized for the battles they have faced.
There are several award categories ranging from talent and ability skills, to the most “pinked out” at the competition.
Lexi Timko, a senior communications major, is the vice president of ZTA and has been participating in the event for the last four years.
Timko said the event is more than just a competition amongst the cheerleaders and holds a much bigger purpose.
“It is a competition, but the main purpose is for our survivors and that’s why we do make such a big deal out of the survivor ceremony,” she said. “We really try and highlight the survivors and help spread awareness of breast cancer.”
Timko said being able to see the success ZTA receives from the PRCC at the end of each year is rewarding.
“Doing it for only 18 years has led us to well over a million dollars for breast cancer with a chapter of just 40 to 50 members, and that’s insane to hear,” she said.
Timko said the PRCC is very important to her and she is always excited to see the impact this event has on other families.
“You know by doing this you’re touching so many people’s lives. You’re helping someone’s mom, aunt or grandmother and it’s so amazing to see them all walk out,” she said.
The PRCC is one of the biggest events for ZTA, and alumni members play a key role in making the event run efficiently.
Zoey Christy, head collegiate member for PRCC, helps the active members of ZTA plan the event each year, and said the planning process for the next year’s PRCC is almost a year long.
“The process to plan it is as soon as it ends. We have to start planning [for] next year,” she said. “We have to book our location, sending out all of our thank yous and we reach out to see if the teams want to donate.”
Christy said the PRCC is a huge event for her and touches her life in many ways.
“My grandmother had breast cancer and she passed away a month before school started, so I knew my heart would be in this,” she said. “I know that I’m helping people who can try and have a cure and have a chance.”
Rachel Bendel, a senior at Boardman High School, has attended the PRCC for the last 12 years.
She said the event is more than just competing against other teams.
“Hearing the amount raised at the end of every year is so amazing,” Bendel said. “It makes my heart so happy that everyone can come together and raise that amount of money for breast cancer.”
She said this event brings her teammates closer together and helps them make new memories.
“Pink Ribbon definitely brings my team and myself closer together because we’re here a big part of the day and we just laugh and have a good time,” she said.