For Head Coach Diane Short, Friday’s volleyball match against Princeton isn’t just a chance for the Bears to move up in the Ivy League rankings, it’s “an evening of hope.” For the sixth year, Brown is hosting a “Spike ALS Match” to raise awareness about the disease. The fundraising event has added significance for Short, as she lost her mother to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 12 years ago while two of her siblings currently have the disease.
At the time Short’s mother passed away, there was no cure for the neurodegenerative disease. But as advancements in research have continued, and with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge bringing attention to the cause, Short is optimistic that a breakthrough is on the horizon.
“I’m very proactive about trying to improve the situation,” Short said. “It’s not only going to help ALS, it’s going to help a lot of the neurological diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s” and multiple sclerosis. For me, it’s even bigger than ALS. Because ALS has hit me personally, I’m a fighter. I want to fight it. I’m very hopeful there will be a cure.”
The entire volleyball team came together this year in support of Short and her efforts to generate awareness surrounding ALS.
“This season in particular, our team has really rallied around this cause,” said co-captain Melissa Cairo ’18. Short “means a lot to us. We’ve learned a lot about the disease through her and through having this game. … She’s so positive all the time and so proactive about it. It reflects on our team a lot.”
Last season, the team received a visit from Short’s brother, who was a source of inspiration for the student-athletes.
“It was incredibly powerful,” Cairo said. “He came to a couple of our games, and even though he could hardly move and was talking to us through an iPad, it was so powerful. All the things that he said and his outlook on the entire experience had a profound effect on our entire team.”
Short has already raised $5,000 of this year’s $6,000 goal, but she doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.
“This is not the end of what I’m doing,” she said. “To me, the money is not the biggest deal. The biggest deal is to have something like this to show awareness.”
Bruno will try to knock off the reigning Ivy League champion Princeton 7 p.m. Friday. Short and her team are looking forward to packing the Pizzitola and ask all fans to wear red. Admission is free and t-shirts will be given to the first 200 students.