Down, set, cure! Athletes lift for cancer

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yesterday afternoon, football players and other student athletes sported hot pink T-shirts and pumped iron for the second annual Bench Press for Cancer, held on the Main Green. Thousands of pounds later – perhaps even hundreds of thousands – the event had gathered $22,500 in pledges for the American Cancer Society.

Unlike the previous contest, this year both men and women were allowed to participate: Men were challenged to do as many 165-pound reps as they could, and women were given a lighter load of 50 pounds.

Participants collected pledges from teammates, friends, faculty and family members – some had agreed to donate a certain amount of money per repetition, and others just gave a flat sum. To keep the spirit of competition alive, much of the fundraising came from amount-per-repetition pledges, giving participants an incentive to keep going even after their limbs felt like Jell-O.

Yelena Cvek ’09, the football team’s manager, was the principal organizer for the event. She said her main objective was to make the event much larger than last year by setting up sports team liaisons, creating a Facebook event and allowing women to participate in the event.

Last year, Mackenzie Staffier ’08 brought the Bench Press for Cancer event to campus after hearing about it at another school, Cvek said. Staffier’s fundraising expectations were modest, setting the bar at $2,000. After rallying the men’s lacrosse and football teams, about 70 participants raised $11,000 for the American Cancer Society, according to Cvek.

Alcino Soares, a food service worker at the Sharpe Refectory, said he skipped a shift break to bench press, giving the football players a run for their money. Soares performed 42 reps, bringing in a total of $132. Nearing the end of the event, defensive end James Develin ’10 held the record for most reps at 52.

On the women’s side, track and field’s javelin thrower and Herald Assistant Sports Editor Katie Wood ’10 came out on top with 70 reps. Wood said she “thought about doing 165 pounds,” but can usually handle a maximum of 160. The decision to do 50-pound reps was better for this event, she added.

Football Head Coach Phil Estes took in one of the day’s largest sums, with the help of a number of generous alums who donated in memoriam of Lawrence Rubida ’05, who succumbed to cancer during his senior year.

By the event’s end at 2 p.m., more than 200 student-athletes, team coaches and other participants had taken part in the event.

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