Today the effort has raised more than $75,000 with almost $20,000 being donated to the American Cancer Society.
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April 17, 2010 | By PETER MARTEKA, The Hartford Courant
GLASTONBURY — — The Glastonbury High School girls crew team is not only rowing for glory this season; they are also "pulling for pink" in the form of a new crew shell.
As a result, the team not only got that desperately needed shell, but also a way to honor people whose lives have been touched by cancer as they raise awareness and money for cancer research.
"Pulling For Pink" has been a mantra this spring for sophomore teammates Anna Wieselberg and Kaitlyn Summers and five others from the crew team, who helped raise a portion of the $40,000 needed to purchase a new pink crew shell from Vespoli World Class Racing Shells of New Haven. Members have sold pink bracelets, scooped ice cream and circulated brochures looking for individual and corporate sponsors, with 25 percent of donations going to the American Cancer Society.
Wieselberg, who lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 8, said she and Summers were prompted to begin the fundraiser because of one statistic — that 1 in 8 women will be affected by breast cancer.
"This really hit home, not only because I lost my mother to breast cancer, but because there are eight rowers in every boat," Wieselberg said. "The thought of one of these strong, young girls being affected by cancer was really tough to think about."
Wieselberg and Summers were joined in the effort by teammates Mallory Baker, Julia Dumaine, Courtney Peck, Samantha Blau and Kristen Stenger. Although the boat is pink, a color associated with breast cancer, Wieselberg said they hope to raise awareness about all types of cancer. The "honor boat," as the girls have named it, will have the names of more than 85 people who have had cancer painted on it, and the boat will be showcased in regattas across the Northeast. The boat is expected to arrive around Mother's Day.
"We try to build this as a team that goes the extra mile and crew is something that is the ultimate team sport," head coach Adam Askham said. "Coming together for a good cause is something better than wins. Wins only last for so long. This will last for the next 20 or 30 years."
Michael Vespoli, who has built thousands of racing shells over the past 30 years, said he can only remember filling an order for pink boats twice — for a group of adult cancer survivors in Ohio and Massachusetts.
"This is the first one we've generated for a group this young," said Vespoli, who is donating the custom paint job and lettering. "I was totally impressed these young women came in, described their idea, created a goal, raised money and said they were going to do it and are doing it. I tried to give them a dose of reality, but they didn't even flinch. I think this is very typical of those who row. They are not in it for the personal glory. They look out for others.
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