Clear skies, beautiful breezes and a comfortable 84 degrees provided the perfect environment for soccer at Magnolia Fields where, for more than six hours, soccer players chased, blocked or kicked the ball for a cause.
University of South Florida’s Latin American Student Association chose the day before Easter to raise money for their American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life team.
“My grandmother and two of my mother’s aunts died from breast cancer,” said Carol Marrero, the association’s public relations officer. “And my mother’s cousin passed away from brain cancer.”
Through their Goal for a Cure Soccer Tournament, the association members and non-members came out to show that they stand behind their family, friends and even strangers who have suffered or are suffering from cancer.
According to a 2012 American Cancer Society report , more than 1.6 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2012, and more than 500,000 Americans are expected to die from cancer in 2012.
“I think that the community should be a little bit more aware of cancer and that being aware of cancer isn’t just wearing the ribbon,” Marrero said. “People should take a bigger look into the actual reality of cancer.”
Omar Rodriguez, the association’s vice-president, has a personal connection to cancer that has been a driving factor in his participation in Relay for Life events.
“When I was 13 years old, I had a cousin pass away from cancer, so now being able to raise money through an organization that I am a part of is important to me,” Rodriguez said. “When my family came to America we had very little, but my parents worked hard. So whenever I can help out other people, I do.”
Out of the 11 teams playing, which consisted of five to seven players each, there were only three female players. Marrero said that she thinks it great that so many males came out to support cancer.
“We are aware that the treatment for people suffering from cancer is a high cost and you never know if it could be you or a family,” said Rodolfo Sayegh, a tournament player.
According to the American Cancer Society, five-year survival rates of cancer have increased 18 percent over the past three decades. This is a result of the advancements in early detection and treatments now available.