The breakfast kicked off at 9am with opening remarks by Master of Ceremonies Bob Timlin. Andrew Kettel IV and Katie Kettel, children of organizer Andrew Kettel, led the crowd of business professionals and local high school basketball coaches in the Pledge of Allegiance. At its completion, Katie then sang God Bless America, which brought many in the audience to tears. Bill Gibbons welcomed the attendants and performed the blessing. Senator John Blake then addressed the audience with a brief speech discussing the importance of attacking cancer head on. Toyota of Scranton Dealer Principle, Greg Gagorik, presented the American Cancer Society with a check for $25,000. He addressed the audience on the importance of supporting the American Cancer Society in their mission to “Create More Birthdays.”
After the guests finished their meal, which was catered by Stirna’s, Erin Moskel of the American Cancer Society took a moment to speak on Cancer Prevention Study-3, which is aimed at creating more birthdays. The American Cancer Society is asking individuals between the ages of 30 and 65 who have not had a cancer diagnosis to participate. Previous studies of a similar nature have helped to create a multitude of advancements in cancer treatment and prevention. For more information on how you can get involved in this amazing study, please visit:
Brian Holmes was the next individual scheduled to share his story as a caregiver to his young daughter, Rosie, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend. He did forward a letter to Andrew Kettel, which he asked be shared. He spoke about the struggles of dealing with a cancer diagnosis and how he and his family “took leukemia head on.” Due to the support of fantastic doctors, their family and friends, Rosie has been in remission for 6 years now.
The Caregiver/Survivor stories did not end there. Former Delaware Valley superintendent, Dr. Candis Finan and her husband, Dr. Thomas Finan, former principal of Delware Valley shared their experience dealing with breast cancer. Thomas shared a story about the strength his wife had while enduring the diagnosis and treatment. Candis emphasized the importance of routine mammograms for all women over 40. She also discussed the necessity of assembling a great team to work with, for which they both did extensive research. Her son even created a blog when they were struggling with the decision of which treatment options to choose. Within 15 minutes, over 500 people responded to the initial post. “It matters when people care,” she stated. She encouraged everyone to “pick up the phone, call, email, or send a card” to anyone they know who is battling cancer. “Attack it like you’ve never attacked anything in your life.” The words of both individuals were incredibly moving.
Guest speaker, Brett Reed, coach of the Lehigh College basketball team was next to present. He spoke about how overcoming cancer is a necessary thing that we all must participate in. “It takes loyal people to move a mass,” he stated. Cancer is a disease that will touch everyone and by rallying together, “we can evoke change.” Coach Reed discussed his team’s uphill battle against Duke in last year’s tournament. He stated that while winning a game as an underdog and fighting cancer are two very separate beasts, there are some parallels. In an interview after their big win, he was asked what led to the victory. After some thought, he came up with five things that he felt were important to overcoming an uphill battle. First, you must “set the vision.” Determine where you want to go and how you will get there. You also must “believe in yourself.” It is incredibly important to build yourself up and have faith that the vision will come true. You must also “prepare before the opposition comes.” Coach Reed emphasized the importance of “handling adversity.” You must be ready to stand up and focus on the goals you have set. Even when things look grim, you must hold on to that personal belief and overcome. Finally, he stated that you must “be thankful.” Coach Reed’s words were inspiring.
After Coach Reed rallied the crowd to “create more birthdays,” Andrew Kettel presented a few key players in the event with awards. Valley View High School’s basketball coach, Larry Pegula, received an award on behalf of the school for raising nearly $7,000 for Coaches vs. Cancer. John Rinaldi of Dunmore High School was up next, accepting an award on behalf of Coach John Bucci and Basketball Hoops for their continued support. Finally, Fox 56 was presented an award for their continued support and coverage of Coaches vs. Cancer since its inception.
The event was a great way to kick off the Coaches vs. Cancer program which will span the course of 6 months. Numerous events will be held during that time, including a Suits and Sneakers Basketball weekend from January 31 to February 2. For more information on the calendar of events or how you can participate in this great cause, please visit www.cvcsinepa.org.