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Red and white makes pink

by Sarah Danaher / Detroit Red Wings

DETROIT – From the first preseason skate to the last postseason game, Red Wings' players and fans are all about the red and white. But on Saturday, it was all about the pink as the Wings hosted the Philadelphia Flyers for the seventh annual Breast Cancer Awareness Night at Joe Louis Arena.

As soon as the doors opened, a flood of pink filled the concourse. Debbie Farley, Lisa Roy, Beverley Rowell and Pam Kelly, otherwise known as the Pink Ladies, were glowing in every shade of pink. Dressed with their personalized leather jackets, pink feather boas, pink shirts and anything pink they could get their hands on, these ladies are hard to miss. They have been attending BCA Night since its inception back in 2007, which happened to be the year that Lisa Roy was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I’ve been coming every year since they started it. I took my first after-chemo shots up at training camp in Traverse City in 2007,” said Lisa, who is now in her seventh year as a survivor.

The Red Wings also hosted 68 breast cancer survivors and patients in honor of the event. While some are now cancer-free, others are going through treatment, just beginning, or have only just been diagnosed. Aside from cancer, they had one more thing in common: they are all fighters.

“This is just fantastic to see all the women who are here tonight. We’re all HERE. We’re alive,” said an emotional Amy Hammer, of Frankenmuth, Mich., who came with her cousin Roxanne Meo, both of whom are cancer survivors.

Debbie Manley of Brownstown Township, Mich., came with her mother, Jeanne Dittberner, to their first BCA night as guests of the Red Wings, but not their first as fans. Both Debbie and Jeanne were diagnosed just months apart.

“My daughter was diagnosed first. She started treatment and then I found a lump. I caught mine very early and did not have to go through chemo and radiation. I was very blessed,” said Jeanne, who like Debbie is cancer-free since 2010.

Earlene O’Quin was diagnosed with breast cancer just weeks ago. After noticing an unusual lump during a routine self-examination, Earlene decided to make an appointment with her doctor.

“It doesn’t run in my family. No parents, aunts, nobody. It was shocking,” said Earlene of her recent diagnosis. “After going to Karmanos and looking at all the women who are even younger than me, I just can’t believe how many people it affects. But looking at these women here who are smiling....they’re inspiring. They’re strong. And that’s what I’ve got to be.”

Aside from the message of awareness, this night was also an opportunity to make a difference for the future. A silent auction was held on the concourse with dozens of enticing items for fans to bid on, including special pink autographed sticks used by players during pregame warmups. The annual puck draw, giving one lucky fan the opportunity to win a meet and greet with goalie Jimmy Howard after the game, is a fan favorite. Black blankets embellished with a limited edition pink winged logo were also for sale. All proceeds from these sales will be evenly distributed amongst Liggett Breast Center in Grosse Pointe, Mich., and the Weisberg Cancer Treatment Center in Farmington Hills, Mich.

Kathleen Hardy has been working with the Weisberg Center since their doors opened about 12 years ago. “There are so many things that are covered by these funds that women wouldn’t be able to take advantage of,” she said. “Just to know that there are people out there who care about what they’re going through. It’s a great thing that the Red Wings are doing. It means everything to these women.”

The Red Wings organization has raised over $160,000 since 2008 in the fight against cancer. This October marks the 15th year of the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer campaign.

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