Mary Patalita Photography
Mary Patalita Photography

Maxing Out For A Cure

Holy Cross Athletics   01-26-2016

By Mary Patalita
Special to

With classes ending and finals on the horizon, stressed students typically rush to the library equipped with books and a semester’s worth of material to review. This however was not the case on Friday, Dec. 11. On the last day of classes, the most crowded spot on campus was not the Dinand Library, full of students anxious for exams, but rather the varsity weight room, packed with eager Crusaders. Students, filled with enthusiasm and gathered in funny costumes, came together for the eighth annual Benching for Breast Cancer.

This year, 575 students and student-athletes registered for the event. Benching for Breast Cancer started at 5:00 p.m. with the line to register spanning the entire distance of the hallway in the Hart Center. For a donation of $10, students received a Benching for Breast Cancer t-shirt and were admitted to the event. This year, Benching for Breast Cancer raised over $2,500. The proceeds went to Pink Revolution, a local breast cancer awareness and fundraising non-profit organization.

Typically purple is the pervasive color at the Hart Center, however on Dec. 11, the color pink dominated. With streamers, balloons and posters filling the weight room, it was clear that this event was a special one. Kicking off the event, every rack was full of students benching for a cure. 

As you breached the entrance of the weight room the energy was infectious. For those experiencing the event for the first time, the scene was moving. “I’m in that gym practically every day so usually walking in is nothing special, but that night my jaw practically hit the floor,” said freshman women’s lacrosse player Alexis Leighton (Garden City, N.Y.). “Seeing the effort that was put into the decorations and the gathering of the Holy Cross community was an extremely powerful moment to me. It’s safe to assume we’ve all been affected by cancer in one way or another, and the support shown that night in the fight against it made me proud to be a part of such a generous and strong student body.”

As serious as the event is, several teams dressed up in fun costumes to show their team spirit and enthusiasm for the event. Some of the costumes this year were the women’s ice hockey team in purple furry robes, the cheerleaders in pajamas, the softball team as Rosie the Riveter, and track and field as pink ghosts. Many of these outfits can be seen in the photo gallery. Their costumes show the passion several students have towards finding a cure.

Photo Gallery of 2015 Benching for Breast Cancer

After benching, head strength and conditioning coach Jeff Oliver led a candlelight ceremony. Oliver started by thanking those who helped put on the event as well as several breast cancer survivors who were in attendance. Junior track and field athlete Matthew Liguori (Norwood, N.J.) and sophomore Emma O’Brien spearheaded the event and spoke at the ceremony. Following their remarks, Father Gavin said a prayer, blessing those in attendance and praying for an end to Breast Cancer. The ceremony concluded with senior football player Andrew Rhodes (St. Louis, Mo.) and junior field hockey player Gabriella Smith (Mendham, N.J.) singing Landslide by Fleetwood Mac. The students then extinguished the flames of the candles with the hopes of soon eradicating breast cancer.

For Liguori, as well as many students on campus, this event holds a special meaning. “Benching for Breast Cancer is such a special event for the Holy Cross community,” said Liguori. “A large portion of the student body attends and everyone has a great time. That being said, we remember the true reason we are there is to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. The candlelight ceremony reminds us of this purpose and gives everyone a chance to reflect and realize the difference we are making.”

Co-chair O’Brien also had words of thanks to share to those involved in the event. “The past co-chairs along with Ann Zelesky have done an amazing job setting the event up, which was so helpful when we were running it this year,” said O’Brien. “Having so many people come out to support us was incredible. We are so appreciative to Jeff Oliver for helping us organize the event; we couldn’t have done it without him!”

Oliver was once again very impressed with the commitment and dedication of the students. "Benching for Breast Cancer had another great year!" said Oliver. "The student involvement has never been better. The enthusiasm and emotion were at an all-time high. Matt Liguori and Emma O'Brien are two in a long line of Holy Cross students who every year step up to the plate and hit this event out of the park. Claire O'Brien masterfully brought the students from Holy Cross For A Cure into the fold to keep the focus on the cause. It was a great way to finish the academic year as a community with such a positive uplifting event."

One stand out quality of the event is the way it brings together the community. “Cancer, specifically breast cancer, has affected many of us on a personal level,” said junior field hockey player Kat Nutting (Ashburnham, Mass.). “Benching for Breast Cancer is a night that unifies the Holy Cross community to celebrate, remember and fight for something much larger than ourselves.”

Every year, Benching for Breast Cancer is the event that tests the maximum capacity of the varsity weight room. This year was no exception. The turnout, as well as the overwhelming support of the Holy Cross community created an infectious spirit. Although a favorite event for many students at Holy Cross, the hope is that next year there will not be a need for the event, as a cure will be found. 

Video: 2015 Benching for Breast Cancer


The commitment and dedication of Holy Cross students and student-athletes to the tremendous cause of fighting cancer not only occurs outside of the arena, but also inside.

Here are upcoming Pink Games, at which fans are encouraged to wear pink and will be able to donate to join the fight against cancer:

Women's Ice Hockey vs. Franklin Pierce - Sat., Feb. 6 - 3PM - FREE!
Men's Basketball vs. Lafayette - Wed., Feb. 10 - 7PM - Get Tickets
Women's Basketball vs. Lehigh - Sat., Feb. 13 - 1PM - Get Tickets
Men's Ice Hockey vs. AIC - Fri., Feb. 19 - 7PM - Get Tickets




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