Lax Bros Fightin’ 4 a Cure team members (front, l. to r.) Alexander Pantaleon, Cameron Fisher, Bryce Frohlich, Nick Terlecki, Greg Ferone, Miguel Cross, coach Joe Espinosa, (back, l. to r.) varsity head coach Matt Ort, Isaac Cohrs, Steven Gilmour, Kevin Cummins, Nick Briggs, Nick Ogle, Charlie Knox, Stephen Gullett, Cameron Parker, Alex Aycock, Braydon Laidroo, Gray Johnson, Jesse Barket, Calvin Anderson, Dylan Keller, Carter Kovalsky, Charles Martini and Andrew Cook don their pink jerseys and socks for a fall game.
Generally, October is the month when people “think pink.” However, here it is February, and a group of high school lacrosse players have not put away their pink socks, jerseys and laces — nor do they intend to for a long while.
Lax Bros Fightin’ 4 a Cure is the brainchild of three Olympia High School students with a mutual connection — each has dealt with the reality of a relative being diagnosed with cancer. Greg Ferone’s mother, Debbie; Bryce Frohlich’s mother, Leslie; and Nick Terlecki’s grandmother, Sandi Redmon, are all breast cancer survivors.
“You don’t really think about it until it happens in your family,” Greg said. “My mom had cancer when I was in middle school, and it was really hard for her, because she couldn’t come to a lot of my activities,” Bryce added.
Recently, when Nick’s grandmother, who lives in Kentucky, was diagnosed with breast cancer, he knew he wanted to do something to make a difference.
“I’ve always wanted a breast cancer jersey,” Nick said. “I went to Greg, because he has a lot of connections. Then we started talking about actually doing a fundraiser on our own.”
Greg, Bryce and Nick approached OHS boys varsity lacrosse head coach Matt Ort, D.C., at the end of last year’s regular season with the idea of coordinating a cancer fundraiser.
“When they came to me with the idea, it was a no-brainer,” Ort said. He encouraged the boys to take the lead in planning the project, and he would help them along the way. The goal was to have something in place by the time the West Orange County Lacrosse Club kicked off the fall season in October. Lacrosse players throughout Orange County form teams during the fall to sharpen their skills prior to the start of the regular high school lacrosse season. “We began planning everything in the summer,” Greg said. “At first we thought about donating the money to [Susan G. Komen for the Cure],” said Heather Terlecki, Nick’s mother. “But then decided to choose [M. D. Anderson Cancer Center — Orlando], because the money would stay in this community.”
Olympia High School varsity lacrosse head coach Matt Ort (far right) partners with players (l. to r.) Greg Ferone, Nick Terlecki and Bryce Frohlich in their efforts to raise breast cancer awareness.
Heather contacted Lynda Canatay, event manager for Women Playing for T.I.M.E., for information about how to coordinate the event through M. D. Anderson. WPFT, which supports cancer technology, immediate diagnosis, mammography and education, regularly works with the cancer center and holds fundraising events throughout the year.
“The guys and I met with representatives at M. D. Anderson to see what we could do for them,” Ort said.
The next step was to come up with a logo and design the jerseys the players would wear. Greg, Bryce and Nick spent considerable time designing the graphics, comparing prices, coordinating the printing of the jerseys, and placing the order.
“We came up with the idea of Lax Bros Fightin’ 4 a Cure, because we all love lacrosse, and the guys on the team are like brothers,” Greg said.
When the fall season rolled around, the boys donned their new jerseys and pink socks and hit the field, not quite sure what the reaction of the other players would be. Both players and spectators took notice of the team that wore pink — and support began to snowball.“A lot of the other teams came up to us and wanted our jerseys, because they liked what we were doing, and they liked the jerseys,” Nick said. “Fall ball is all about looking good,” he said, with a laugh.“I had people come up to me and ask where they could get the pink socks our guys were wearing,” Leslie said.Team parents sold breast cancer awareness items, as well as accepted donations during the games, which were played each week at Windermere Preparatory School. The boys wanted to expand their awareness efforts, so they wore pink Firefighters for a Cure T-shirts to school, which were donated by local firefighter Steve Wydra, the stepfather of team member Alex Aycock.“We got a very positive response, and we actually sold a few to other kids,” Greg said. Even though the official national breast cancer awareness initiative concludes at the end of October, the boys wanted to continue their efforts.New to the team, but not to cancer, Miguel Cross supported the cause from the beginning to honor his mother, Rocio, who also is a survivor.“Breast cancer doesn’t just happen in October; people get it all of the time,” Ort said. “Breast cancer affects so many people, and I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t know someone with cancer or who hasn’t had it themselves. So, we thought we could extend the awareness and fundraising into our regular season.”
On March 15, OHS will face off against West Orange High School in the first Pink & White lacrosse game dedicated to breast cancer awareness.“This is going to be a big event,” Ort said. “Bill Baker has been onboard with this all the way,” he said, referring to WOHS’s boys varsity lacrosse coach.The event will include a survivors walk, where each player will escort a survivor around the track; a medical professional who will speak about breast cancer; and the presentation of OHS’s donation to M. D. Anderson.
“The Pink & White game was the idea of our sons, who know the horrors of this disease firsthand and want to stop the nightmare,” Debbie said. “If they can bring awareness and encourage just one person to get a mammogram, then that is one more life saved. Early detection and yearly mammograms are the key. If my son is the vehicle to help bring awareness, then I applaud him and will help him in any way possible.”
The team’s goal is to donate $5,000. To date, they have raised almost $1,300.
“We are still looking for sponsors to help out with our jerseys and also for donations,” Ort said. “Head coach Ort has organized this event, and Olympia High School administration is in full support of his efforts,” Athletic Director Tom Curran said. “Proceeds from the gate will be donated to the cause.”
Cancer survivors Debbie Ferone (left) and Leslie Frohlich support their sons’ efforts in cancer awareness.
According to Curran, other OHS teams are interested in doing similar projects in support of breast cancer awareness. “We hope this will continue every year,” said Greg, who is a junior. “I am very proud of Greg,” Debbie said. “He is a quiet warrior in the fight against this horrendous disease. He is always striving to bring awareness and hopefully find a cure. This past year, during the annual breast cancer walk, Greg had a previous mandatory commitment. When it was over, he was desperately trying to drive downtown to be with me when I crossed the finish line. A policeman saw him weaving and asked where he was going. Greg explained that he wanted to cross the finish line with me, and the officer gave him a police escort. He blocked lanes and allowed Greg to run lights. Through the driving rain, I saw Greg running toward me, and we crossed the line as a family. There are many who are not so lucky.”
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