Breast Cancer Awareness Month has long stood as a significant and emotional time for the Washington franchise. Co-Owner and Co-CEO Tanya Snyder, a survivor herself, was a catalyst in turning BCA initiatives like THINK PINK® within the Burgundy & Gold family into leaguewide actions.
Every October, the franchise puts a distinct care and focus into spreading awareness about the importance of early detection, paying tribute to those affected by the disease and more. And while this October is rooted in those same values, it is different and historic as the first BCA Month under the Washington Commanders brand identity, which is guided by the tagline and rallying cry "Command the Cure."
"One in 8 women will hear the words 'you have cancer,'" Snyder said. "Until we have a cure, we know that our best defense is early detection. That's why we are so passionate about this cause. Everyone knows someone who has been affected by this disease.It's critical that we spread the message about the importance of regular checkups and screenings because early detection saves lives. We are so grateful to have this platform and partnership with the League to amplify this message."
For the first time, on Friday, Oct. 7, the Washington Commanders Charitable Foundation hosted a BCA panel at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. After being treated to music and a cocktail hour, guests listened to a panel featuring Mrs. Snyder, FOX5 DC's Ayesha Khan, GWU Medical Center's Dr. Rachel Brem, President & CEO of Black Women's Health Imperative Linda Goler Blount and Inova Health cancer genetic counselor Elizabeth Stark.
The conversation was filled with expert insights and personal stories, and topics addressed included issues surrounding health equity, progress towards a breast cancer cure, harmful myths and more.
"I learned so much information from this panel…I love that someone like Mrs. Snyder, who is well known and is also a survivor, shared her story and encouraged women to advocate for their health," Ayesha Khan said. "I really enjoyed talking to people in the audience after…[they] were coming up to us to thank us for having this very important conversation."
That theme of community connection around this crucial cause continued into Sunday as the Commanders hosted their THINK PINK® game against the Tennessee Titans. The color pink popped everywhere around FedExField as employees, fans, coaches and players all paid tribute to the day's theme. Several chapters of Zeta Tau Alpha that has established a nationally-recognized reputation for its commitment to breast cancer awareness philanthropy and education, came together to distribute 30,000 pink ribbons as a gesture of service and solidarity.
"It meant the world to me to be able to be there for a cause so close to my heart with my closest friends," said Huy To, a senior ZTA at Old Dominion. "Being able to see the survivors smile and enjoy life gives hope to millions of women."
Among those who Huy and her ZTA sisters interacted with on Sunday were the 500 All-Star Survivors. Invited as guests of the team, the group sat throughout the lower bowl, and 30 of them were hosted at a pre-game tailgate and in a suite.
In one of the most exciting experiences of the BCA game, a group of the survivors and loved ones were brought down to the field for a dedicated halftime show. One by one, the women ran out of the stadium tunnel, and were announced as though they were star players. They were given a moment to shine while the announcers gave some quick facts about their breast cancer story.
On Oct. 9, 2022, Washington brought one of its cherished, long-standing traditions into the Commanders era by hosting its annual Think Pink game during Week 5 vs. the Tennessee Titans. The day featured programming and events created to generate breast cancer awareness and pay tribute to families who have been affected by the disease. Highlights included pink branding throughout stadium, "Command the Cure" uniforms worn by employees and vendors, the distribution of pink ribbons by Zeta Tau Alpha and a special halftime show honoring Washington's "All-Star Survivors".
"I am still basking in the glow of running out on the field to be recognized when the announcer called my name and having the world hear that I am a survivor and that I kicked cancer's butt," All-Star Survivor Wanda Gardiner said. "After going through treatment and completing chemo I never rang the bell...this was my bell ringing ceremony. "
Afterwards, the survivors stood on the field with their loved ones, and all came together to lift a pink ribbon that stretched from sideline to sideline.
"I found it very special that we were able to include a guest in the event. It meant the world that I could experience this with my husband, specifically holding the ribbon with him on the field and watching the pink fireworks together," All-Star Survivor Liane Lewis said. "This was not just my battle, but his as well. I was honored to attend such an inclusive celebration of strength."
The spirit from a memorable BCA kickoff weekend will carry into the rest of the month. On Monday, Oct. 17 (today), the Commanders, in collaboration with Breast Care for Washington, will station a mammogram van outside of FedExField. As part of the team's continued commitment to equity and service, the van will offer free state-of-the-art 3D mammography to women in the DMV community, regardless of insurance status.
To put a ribbon on the end of the month, the Commanders, in partnership with the American Cancer Society, will host the 14th annual All-Star Survivors Celebration at Firefly Cellar Vineyards where attendees will be treated to lunch, makeup consultations, massages, facials and more.