This event for cancer survivors has always been free. Why they’ll have to pay this year

Breast cancer survivors celebrate during the Pink Zone celebration Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018, at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Breast cancer survivors celebrate during the Pink Zone celebration Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018, at the Bryce Jordan Center. Centre Daily Times, file

The annual Pink Zone celebration for breast cancer survivors has always been free. But now, survivors will need to pay a $25 registration fee.

The 13th annual Play4Kay game benefiting Pink Zone — a nonprofit breast cancer organization that promotes awareness and empowers survivors — is scheduled for Feb. 10 when the Lady Lions face Michigan at the Bryce Jordan Center.

“Our Play4Kay game is truly one of the highlights of our schedule every year,” head coach Coquese Washington said in a press release. “Many people have been touched by cancer in some way and this gives us a chance to partner with individuals and businesses in our community to raise awareness, provide support and celebrate survivors in a spectacular fashion.”

Up until now, everything provided to cancer survivors at the celebration was free, including transportation from anywhere in Pennsylvania, a T-shirt, four free tickets to the game (any tickets beyond that could be purchased for $5 a piece), a “swag bag” and a post-game reception, Susan Woodring, Pink Zone executive director, said.

“That’s a pretty significant cost, and it’s just not a model that we can continue,” she said.

The $25 registration fees will go into the Pink Zone account and ultimately be dispensed to the organization’s beneficiaries, Woodring said.

Mount Nittany Health, Penn State Cancer Institute, Kay Yow Foundation, Pa. Breast Cancer Coalition, J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital and Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital are Pink Zone’s beneficiaries.

Additionally, each survivor will receive two free tickets to the game, and any beyond that can be purchased at face value.

Woodring said that if the $25 fee is a financial difficulty for any survivor, there is a donor who is willing to sponsor the registration.

Pink Zone wants to make sure that anyone who wants to come is able to and isn’t held back for financial reasons, she said.

“This is all about honoring breast cancer survivors,” Woodring said.

Tammy Miller, a survivor who lives in the State College area and has been attending the Pink Zone celebration for the past several years, said she can see both sides of the situation.

She said she believes the organization needs to try this and see how it goes, but she also expects that there may be pushback.

Miller said she thinks the event should celebrate life, adding that this new structural change will be a good opportunity for survivors to talk about why they attend.

Last year, more than 550 survivors attended the celebration, Woodring said, and since the nonprofit’s inception, more than $2 million has been distributed to fund research, education and awareness efforts.