North Salem Volleyball digs out a fundraising win


North Salem Volleyball in their Dig Pink gear. Photo courtesy of Ellen Herlihy

The North Salem volleyball team’s 2021 season concluded on Monday, but their efforts to raise funds for breast cancer research on behalf of the Side-Out Foundation will reap benefits for those impacted by breast cancer for years to come. The team, through its Dig Pink initiative, is within $500 of reaching its $5,000 fundraising goal.

Dig Pink is a national program that provides volleyball athletes with the opportunity to unite behind a cause raising funds for Side-Out’s Stage IV breast cancer research. Ellen Herlihy, North Salem Volleyball’s senior captain, led the team’s efforts in her role as a Side-Out ambassador. Ambassadors are responsible for completing a Side-Out campaign plan and executing a campaign within their local community.

“Each individual played a very important role in this,” Herlihy said. “We couldn’t have done it without the support of administration and parents. There are schools out there that would rather not take on the burden of having to organize this fundraiser. It’s definitely been successful here because we have such a great support system.”

Photo courtesy of Ellen Herlihy

Herlihy noted that about half of the teams nationwide who typically participate in the fundraiser opted out this year due to the pandemic. “It’s pretty incredible to look at what we did through that lens,” Herlihy noted. “It was really important to us to pull together to create something. It didn’t have to be the world’s biggest fundraiser, but it definitely had meaning behind it.”

Money raised for Side-Out helps to develop treatment solutions and to extend the lives of those living with Stage IV breast cancer, according to the Side-Out Foundation’s website. Late-stage breast cancer patients will remain in treatment for the rest of their lives, underscoring the need for innovative treatment solutions.

“Even though we don’t have a cure for cancer, these donations make it ten times easier to find a cure, or to support those who are battling,” Herlihy said.

To drive awareness and donations, Herlihy and her fellow players hosted a Dig Pink “Pink Out” on April 13. All volleyball players, from modified through varsity, wore pink for the day. The teams decorated the hallways of the Middle and High schools and sold pink masks and t-shirts to help raise funds. In previous years, the team also hosted a car wash, which was a major driver of funds raised. This year’s planning was more challenging due to the pandemic, so the girls set their sights on a more attainable goal of half the amount that they typically raise.

Photo courtesy of Ellen Herlihy

Regardless of the final dollar figure the team raises, Herlihy is proud of what the experience has taught her and her teammates. “I’ll definitely take away from this the ability to see beyond the immediate situation. That there’s always something bigger out there. At the end of the day, this is bigger than us.”

Photo courtesy of Ellen Herlihy

If you would like to donate to North Salem Volleyball's Dig Pink fundraiser, click here.

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