By Brian Le
On Saturday, April 18, the VWC softball and baseball programs partnered together to host Virginia Wesleyan’s Seventh Annual Strike Out Cancer Day at the VWC Softball Complex.
This yearly fundraising event is held in memory of Head Softball Coach Brandon Elliott’s mother, Elaine Sears, who lost her battle with colon cancer in 2008.
“It was never about her or just colon cancer, she wanted to beat it all,” said Elliott.
In partnership with the American Cancer Society and GENESiS Ministries, Strike Out Cancer has been able to raise more than $60,000 to date to go towards cancer research. The goal was to raise $15,000, which aimed to beat last year’s total of nearly $13,000.
According to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, Virginia Wesleyan was second to only Notre Dame in all of the NCAA in total funds raised last year.
“Strike Out Cancer has been such a success here at Virginia Wesleyan because of Coach Elliott. Coach dedicates a majority of his time planning, fundraising and contacting people and businesses to help make this day possible,” said senior pitcher Kristina Karagiorgis.
Seven years ago Elliott started this event as a tribute to his mother; however, it has since grown to become not only a staple of the softball program, but a Virginia Wesleyan tradition as well.
“Strike Out Cancer isn’t just about softball. It’s about more than the game, it’s the relationships that will be remembered,” said Elliott.
This annual game has truly developed into a very successful event, year after year. In addition to the softball and baseball games going on, music, food, inflatables, and a silent auction was available to all the participants.
To kick off the event, President Dr. William Greer shared a few words with the crowd, which was followed by throwing out the first pitch.
“My favorite part of this event is the recognition ceremony that takes place before the games start. We recognize everyone who is a cancer survivor or has been a caretaker. We give pins and sashes out to each person, and the emotion that everyone feels is unforgettable. My family has personally been affected by cancer and being able to recognize one of my family members for beating this disease is amazing,” said sophomore Elizabeth Bailey.
Cancer has personally affected many players on the Virginia Wesleyan softball team, along with many others in our community. Strike Out Cancer day is an opportunity for the community to come together and surround themselves with others of a shared purpose.
“Strike Out Cancer day hits home for me. My mother passed away five years ago due to breast cancer and I know many others who have lost parents, family and friends due to cancer. Being a bystander to this disease and witnessing the horrible effects it has on someone so close and important to my heart and my family makes me want to bring awareness to the community so we can contribute to ending this disease forever,” said Karagiorgis
In addition to fundraising, Strike Out Cancer also hopes to bring awareness to the community and to bring everyone together with the common interest of defeating cancer. This event unites the community because cancer affects everyone, which creates a sense of camaraderie in the crowd.
“Strike Out Cancer means a day of family and emotion. Of course, it is very emotional for players and families who have been affected in some way due to cancer, but when families come together and stand beside one another for support, there is nothing like it. Whether it is our softball family or a blood related family, everyone is there to comfort each other,” said Bailey.
“I believe it’s important to extend the Softball program to the community because the more people we can get involved in this event will only help benefit our fundraising for the American Cancer Society,” said Karagiorgis.
This event is something players look forward to all year. They get the opportunity to acknowledge and commemorate anyone who has been affected in some way by cancer. Strike Out Cancer is about so much more than just softball to everyone who attends. The bond between people, and the emotions that are involved are what have made the event so successful.
“My favorite part of Strike Out Cancer day is lining up on the third base foul line before the presentation starts and taking a moment to look around our complex and taking in the sight. Seeing hundreds of people from around our college community and from the Hampton Roads area come together to want to contribute to help end cancer is amazing,” said Karagiorgis
“I want people to leave feeling like they made a difference. I want people to leave touched,” said Elliott.