Heidi Plaskey, of Berkley, signs the name of her friend, Sherri Denton, who beat breast cancer, on an honor wall for those affected by cancer during the girls junior varsity volleyball game at Shrine Catholic High School & Academy Oct. 13.

Heidi Plaskey, of Berkley, signs the name of her friend, Sherri Denton, who beat breast cancer, on an honor wall for those affected by cancer during the girls junior varsity volleyball game at Shrine Catholic High School & Academy Oct. 13.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Royal Oak Shrine volleyball teams raise funds for breast cancer patients

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published October 25, 2021

 The Shrine girls varsity volleyball team dons pink shirts for the school’s annual fundraiser benefiting the Pink Fund, a nonprofit that helps breast cancer patients with nonmedical bills, Oct. 13.

The Shrine girls varsity volleyball team dons pink shirts for the school’s annual fundraiser benefiting the Pink Fund, a nonprofit that helps breast cancer patients with nonmedical bills, Oct. 13.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ROYAL OAK — On Oct. 13, the Shrine girls varsity and junior varsity teams raised money for breast cancer patients during their games against Regina High School.

The annual fundraiser raises awareness and financial support for the Pink Fund, a local nonprofit that helps women and men in active breast cancer treatment with nonmedical bills.

Portions of T-shirt sales, admission and a bake sale benefited the Pink Fund, for a total donation of over $2,500.

Jennifer Gallagher, a longtime volunteer with the Pink Fund and parent of a member of the girls varsity volleyball team, said the Shrine fundraiser is a grassroots event with a main goal of raising awareness that there are local dollars available should a loved one be diagnosed with breast cancer.

The Pink Fund, whose slogan is “real help now,” offers a 90-day program to meet breast cancer patients’ “critical expenses for housing, utilities, transportation and insurance.” The nonprofit pays up to $3,000 directly to qualifying applicants’ creditors.

“I think it’s wonderful for these young girls to recognize that you can make a big difference with just a small activity like a bake sale or a varsity game,” Gallagher said. “We just want people to be aware that a program like this exists. If you know somebody that all of sudden is struck with a financial crisis because of their illness, we’re here to help them.”

Members of the Shrine girls seventh grade varsity blue volleyball team manned the bake sale table during the high school volleyball games Oct. 13. Most of them know a family member, friend or teacher impacted by breast cancer.

“I think it’s really important because I feel like sometimes people think it’s not a big deal and we already have enough things on (breast cancer), so to focus on these games for it is very special,” Summer Smith said.

Libby Shapiro said she was impressed with the turnout.

“When you have a homecoming football game, it feels like everyone’s there, and it feels like this for this varsity game, which I think is really cool that a fundraiser can match a really big high school event,” she said.

Cecilia Murray added that the sense of community was strong.

“Everybody contributes. Like, somebody will come by (the bake sale table) and give us $5 when (all baked goods are) only worth $1, which is really great because you can tell we’re a community and we all want to help out,” she said.

Executive Director Molly MacDonald founded the Pink Fund in 2006 after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2005. She said she received the diagnosis after a financially devastating divorce and before starting a new job, which she couldn’t take. With no savings or income, she faced foreclosure and food insecurity.

MacDonald got back on her feet and has helped thousands of other breast cancer patients — 63 to 81 patients per month. To date, the Pink Fund has made more than $5.4 million in bill payments.

She said many breast cancer patients face financial toxicity, or the negative impact medical expenses can have on patients’ mental and physical health, in some cases resulting in bankruptcy.

“The household income must be at or below 500% of the federal poverty level. For a one-person household, it’s about $64,000,” MacDonald. “It allows us to, in some ZIP codes, rope in the middle class.”

Nowadays, she added, patients are being diagnosed with breast cancer at younger ages.

“There will be an increase in breast cancer diagnoses (in the near future) because of the lack of (or delayed) diagnostic testing over the last 18 months (due to the pandemic),” she said. “We’d love more people to apply so we can help them.”

For more information about the Pink Fund, call (877) 234-7465 or visit pinkfund.org.

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