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STEVE HANLON: The DAC is pretty in pink
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STEVE HANLON: The DAC is pretty in pink

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Sports Reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.

ST. JOHN -- Numbers, stories and information comes at us so quickly these days it is sometimes difficult to keep track of it all.

But as the weather warms up and more folks start going out to watch softball games, like Tuesday's Valparaiso at Lake Central game, there is an easy way to understand one piece of data.

Women in the U.S. have a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer during their lifetime. That means at least one starter on each team is expected to have breast cancer in her life.

That number is too high, which is why the Duneland Athletic Conference had a Breast Cancer Awareness night Tuesday. The softball teams wore uniforms with pink in them, T-shirts were sold to raise money and Lake Central raised almost $1,000 to help the cause.

Indians coach Jeff Sherman and Vikings coach Tracy Corneil did this last season. And, thankfully, it caught on.

Lake Central Dean of Students Erin Novak and math teacher Jill Zilz threw out the first pitch. Both are survivors of this dreaded disease.

They are an inspiration to all the players in both dugouts. But these young ladies have already been touched by the sadness.

Valparaiso senior Emily Petro's aunt, Michelle Alcorn, had breast cancer and has beaten it, which made Tuesday's event very special to her.

"This allows people who've dealt with it to feel the love and support," Petro said. "Hopefully this will bring us all together to fight this. There are a lot of people battling it and we want them all to beat it."

Remember, one in eight.

Lake Central senior Jessi Kiefor lost one grandmother to breast cancer and had her other one fight it and win.

"Breast cancer has always been a big part of my life because of that," Kiefor said. "I saw them get sick. It was awful. Something like this, wearing these uniforms in support, hopefully touches those who've dealt with this. I hope it lifts them up."

One in eight.

Corneil and Sherman are both very good friends with Novak and Zilz. They saw these courageous women show great strength in those darker moments.

And these two coaches inspired an entire conference to lift up those in need.

"It was great seeing them out there, throwing out the first pitch," Corneil said. "Didn't they look great out there? This means so much to so many people. It was the least we could do."

All the schools in the DAC were asked to participate and T-shirts with the logos of all eight schools -- Chesterton, Crown Point, Lake Central, LaPorte, Merrillville, Michigan City, Portage and Valparaiso -- were sold to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. The pink ribbon that is a symbol of this fight was also on the T-shirts.

"This means a lot," Sherman said. "It's important that the girls who play this sport understand what this is about and what it is for, which many of them do already. We're so glad the rest of the schools in the DAC followed what we started last year. I hope this can continue and it will grow in the coming years."

It needs to. It has to.

It could be a catcher. A pitcher. A left fielder or a shortstop.

One in eight.

This column solely represents the writer’s opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

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Sports Reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.

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