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Redskins Host 12th Annual All-Star Survivor Celebration


As a staunch advocate for the awareness, prevention and improvement of the minority treatment of breast cancer, Ricki Fairley knows the keys to limiting the effects of a disease that has led to over an estimated 40,000 deaths per year in the United States.

"You can't prevent breast cancer, so we try to talk about early detection because you can only detect it," Fairley said on Tuesday. "That is saving lives."

Though nearly eight years have passed since her own bout with breast cancer, Fairley, who resides in Annapolis, Maryland, continues to fight against the very thing that once threatened her life.

"So many ... have been touched by [breast cancer]," she said. "Everybody has a story about somebody that they know."

Fairley's words hit home for many of the members of the Redskins organization, which helped welcome her and 29 other survivors to the Inova Sports and Performance Center at Redskins Park for the 12th annual All-Star Survivor Celebration.

For kicker Dustin Hopkins, the event really helped keep things in perspective.

"We had a really good family friend that had a double mastectomy three days ago, so it hits us even more this time around," Hopkins told "To be able to do something for people that we don't know, to brighten their day or their lives a little bit, it's an honor."

Hopkins' outlook best describes what the event strives to achieve -- brightening each woman's day -- by treating them to activities catered towards their well-being. Above all else, it offers some pampering to the survivors who have experienced such hardship.

"You're making us feel like princesses," Fairley said, "and it's totally awesome."

Former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, who helped found the now annual All-Star Survivor Celebration, was the first to speak at Tuesday's festivities, touching on just how important this day remains to him.

The event is personal for Cooley; he watched his mother take on, and eventually defeat, breast cancer with courage while he was still a member of the team. That battle led to his inspiration to help launch the event 13 years ago with Tanya Snyder, the wife of Redskins owner Dan Snyder, as well as the Redskins Charitable Foundation and the American Cancer Society.

"This is the thing that is most important to us today. ..I believe in all of you," he said. "The park is yours for the day."

Snyder, a survivor of breast cancer herself, then spoke to the organization's impact in regards to this cause. Among other things, Snyder, who helped introduce the now league-wide THINK-PINK!® campaign that promotes early detection 21 years ago, specifically noted the value of getting to use a platform like the Redskins.

"We took advantage of the opportunity of a wonderful franchise," Snyder said Tuesday. "Today is about having one of the most memorable days that you'll ever have."

Local women currently battling breast cancer were treated to an afternoon of pampering as they took part in makeup consultations, wig fittings, jeans fittings, massages and tours of Redskins Park on Monday, October 8, 2019.

Once the speakers were done, the survivors were separated into six groups, captained by wives of Redskins players and coaches and accompanied by certain members of the team. Over the course of several hours, each group took turns going to six stations, which included a tour of the facility, new jeans from the GAP, jewelry by Kendra Scott, wigs, scarves, a massage and a makeup consultation.

"This is a pretty awesome event," said rookie offensive lineman Wes Martin, who spoke while sporting a wig alongside the rest of his group. "To see such a group come together ... It's just really special to see."

"We wanna do well, we wanna play well for the city, the organization, ourselves, our family, but at the same time we're playing the game, and the important stuff is life," Hopkins added. "These people have had their life on the line."

The moment wasn't lost on survivor Terrilyn Wade, either, who recognized what it meant for the team to do this during the middle of their season.

"We appreciate them," Wade noted. "They're going through so much ... and they stopped everything to do this for us. That means a lot because that's what survivorship is about: thriving and surviving with a community and friendship."

Though Tuesday's event eventually had to come to an end -- but not before each woman received a gift bag -- that did not mean the support would stop with it. Tswana Sewell, the third person to speak at the morning's welcome ceremony, reminded them of this.

"If there is anything that we can do to support you, we are here," said Sewell, who serves as an executive director for the American Cancer Society in the Greater D.C. and Baltimore area. "Your energy is absolutely amazing."

The ACS offers a variety of services, such as providing cancer patients door-to-door travel, hope lodges near hospitals and a Reach To Recovery program that emphasizes comfort, emotional grounding and help in decision-making to people specifically suffering from breast cancer.

At any time, even "at 3 o'clock in the morning," Sewell promises that they will be there to lend a hand.

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