Greyhounds Set Pace for Charitable Teamwork
For Moravian athletes, fighting the good fight means more than finishing strong on the field, court, or track. When an important cause is involved—like battling breast cancer or leukemia, for instance—the Greyhounds always rise to the challenge.
This year, the Greyhounds' effort to make strides against such faceless foes was nothing less than extraordinary.
On behalf of the WBCA's Pink Zone® initiative against breast cancer, the Moravian women's basketball team raised the most funds of any Division III team in the nation. And in April, the Greyhound football team registered more than 450 new, potential bone marrow donors for the Be the Match® bone marrow campaign—far more than schools with much larger student bodies, such as Lafayette, Temple, and the University of Pennsylvania. (The Moravian student body numbers just 1,600 full-time undergraduates.)
"The Moravian coaches and players did a great job," said Katiria Corraliza, recruitment specialist for Be the Match. "I was impressed with how enthusiastic and well organized they were."
"Without our players, the drive would have had minimal success," said head assistant football coach Jeff Pukszyn, who coordinated the drive. All day long, registrants lined up inside the Moravian field house to fill out forms and offer cell samples, swabbing the inside of their cheeks. The national bone marrow registry is used to find matches for patients with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases that can be cured or alleviated by bone marrow transplants.
The Moravian women's basketball team, led by coach Mary Beth Spirk, has a long history of standing up to breast cancer. Participating in the Pink Zone® initiative organized by the WBCA, the Greyhounds have raised more than $25,000 for breast cancer awareness over the last eight years. But this year the team was inspired to do more, after the mother of player Amy Heffner '11 succumbed to cancer. Patti Heffner, a basketball coach at Parkland and Catasauqua High Schools, had been diagnosed with the disease during the 2009 season.
"We were devastated when we first got the news last year. We fell apart," said Coach Spirk. "This year we rallied. It brought us closer together, on and off the court. We dedicated our season to her, and the entire Moravian community embraced our efforts."
Motivated by the desire to honor their teammate and friend (and by the loss of their own loved ones to cancer), Alyson Steltz '10 and Aly Bisci '10 led the Greyhound's 2010 Pink Zone campaign. "Amy's mother had such an impact throughout the local community—we knew we could do much more than in past years," said Steltz, who has known Heffner since seventh grade, when the two played on rival teams. "We decided to involve the Parkland and Catasauqua high schools, where Mrs. Heffner coached."
Through penny wars, T-shirt sales, and raffles held at the February Pink Zone game, which packed in 687 attendees, the Greyhounds raised more than $6,100 for the cause—the most of any Division III team nationwide. They were honored at a national event held in early April.