In today's economy, it's amazing to hear stories of people willing and able to give money to different causes. There is a lot of talk right now about football... the stadium, the seat licenses, capital campaigns and raising dollars for the push for football at Charlotte. With today's meeting and information about football, I'm going in a different direction (maybe to the chagrin of people doing google searches and coming up with this blog post - sorry, but please read on).
The Dig Pink fundraiser is a good cause. The volleyball program is raising money for breast cancer research and awareness. The Charlotte 49ers started this now-national campaign earlier this decade under former head coach Lisa Marston. In 2003, Marston set up the idea by tying monetary pledges to digs in a volleyball match. It was a good plan, particularly because volleyball plays its main conference season mainly in October, which is national Breast Cancer Awareness month. It's a natural fit, women in sports and awareness for a primarily a women's disease that affects so many people.
Marston's mother was a breast cancer survivor (full disclosure - mine is too) and her idea was to tie the defensive statistic, the dig, to money raised. People pledge an amount to a dig in the match and get the payouts on the back end after the match is completed. Money raised was given to the Charlotte chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the same folks who do "Race for the Cure" and "Walk for the Cure." Marston called the program "Dig for the Cure."
The idea was great on many levels. Most significant for me was the fact that the dig is a volleyball defensive stat where a player attempts to keep an opponent from successfully completing a kill by "digging" a ball from hitting the court. In a sense, the defensive player "keeps the ball alive" so her teammates can set up an offensive score. The parallels are brilliant. Each dig in the match keeps alive the hope that raising money will lead to a cure for breast cancer. Teams now wear special pink jerseys to commemorate the event.
The idea of the program caught on with Conference USA teams (Charlotte's conference affiliation at the time) and programs around the country. Marston worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get more and more programs interested and involved.
In 2007, Chris Redding came to coach the Niners following Marston's departure to be a mom and devote more time to her children and family. Redding knew of the program from his days as an assistant at Alabama and made sure the tradition continued. Marston still works to keep programs around the country participating and gives them support to help raise money for the now national cause.
This season, the programs moved to "Dig Pink" as a national charitable foundation "Side-Out Foundation" was established to help put raised money to the places that it can do the most good.
There are several new programs and ideas that are being implemented in the athletics department at Charlotte to help raise money for this cause, which we will publicize on the Web site in the coming days. Spurned on by an idea by Donna Bialosky in the Athletic Academic Center, the 49ers wore their pink jerseys and headed out to the tailgaters at the season-opening Carolina Panthers game on September 13 around Bank of America Stadium. They went out early Sunday and talked up their cause. The Panthers and Eagles fans, with spirits high for a new season and in a giving mood, donated a collective $1,400 to our ladies for the "Dig Pink" match. And it should be pointed out that Eagles fans were as a giving as Panthers fans.
As more programs are announced, please participate. Some ideas are as easy a "Penny War" where you could donate the pennies in your pockets, purse, couch and car (just to name a few places) to help toward the cause. If you have any questions or ideas for this great cause, you can contact assistant coach Casey Harris at Casey.Harris@uncc.edu or ask her how you can donate your time or money to this effort. Any contribution is a good one that will be put to a good use.
This year, Charlotte's Dig Pink match will be on Friday, October 2 in their conference home opener against Fordham at 7 p.m. Come on out and see the most pink in one place at one time. It's a feast for the eyes that's a great cause for women everywhere.
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