VU women join fight against breast cancer

Early Saturday morning the women's basketball team made the two mile trip to downtown Nashville to volunteer at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation's annual Race for the Cure.

For the first time, the Race for the Cure was held at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park in downtown Nashville, just west of the grounds of the state Capitol building. By the sun began to rise over the city, the team had already arrived.

The grassy mall was the staging area for the race. The Vanderbilt volunteers were responsible for handing the pink cards saying "In celebration of . . ." and "In memory of . . ." for participants to wear during the race.

Vendors, including Panera, set up booths and kiosks around the mall, which turned out to be a blessing for young athletes aroused early from their beds, including Merideth Marsh and Tina Wirth.

By coincidence, Saturday was the first real frost in Nashville this fall. The players were bundled up against the morning chill, posing a problem for how to wear the "Race for the Cure" volunteer t-shirts.

Tina Writh (above photo) wore hers as a scarf. Liz Sherwood (right) wore hers over her warmup suit; Ashlee Bridge (left) wore hers under the jacket, and Jessica Mooney and Amber Norton decided to wait for a warmer day.

As race time approached, Lauren Lueders, Jen Risper, Dee Davis, and Caroline Williams had plenty to do at their table.

Lauren Leuders pins an "In Celebration of . . . " card on Wendy Adams' pink t-shirt, which identifies her as a breast cancer survivor. Wendy is a 5-year survivor, and on the front of her shirt, she's wearing a photo of her mother Hazel, who is a 2-1/2 year survivor.

The Vanderbilt players, including Ashlee Bridge, also handed out schedules for the season and a promotional flyer for "Pink Out" to be held on December 3 when the 'Dores host Clemson.

The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2, and all fans are encouraged to wear pink. A portion of the ticket proceeds will go directly to the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and a FREE post-game clinic will be held for all youth basketball players. Mark your calendars now!

Head Coach Melanie Balcomb was out of town on a recruiting trip, but the assistant coaches, including Vicky Picott (center) were there. Coach Picott coaches the post players, including Amy Malo (left) and Carla Thomas (right.

Carla wore a pink card in memory of her cousin Samanatha "Sammy" Thomas, who passed away when Carla was a freshman at Vanderbilt, right after the SEC tournament.

Jessica Mooney

Merideth Marsh and Tina Wirth

Merideth Marsh

As race time approached, music blared from the stage for a jazzercise warmup before the race. Assistant Coach Lisa Cermignano, who loves to dance, couldn't resist the opportunity, and Jen Risper, Caroline Williams, and Tina Wirth joined in.

The girls basketball team from Ravenwood High School in Brentwood had come to Nashville for the race and were excited when they met basketball players from Vanderbilt. Merideth Marsh is on the left of the front row, and Tina Wirth on the right. Amy Malo, Liz Sherwood, and Carla Thomas are in the back. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

When the race began, the players posed for a photo before heading back to campus. Next on their agenda? A nap? Or a football tailgate? Or just some time to chill?

No such luck. With the team's second exhibition game on Monday at 7 p.m. and the first regular season game next weekend in Colorado, the next item on the agenda was . . . practice! (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

* * * * *

Photos copyright 2006 by Whitney D for Top Stories