April 23, 2014
By Renee Peggs
…And the pitch. Steeeerike three, cancer’s outta here!
This is our dream, our vision, our hope, and our driving force. When cancer steps up to the plate with a steely resolve, we will knock it out for good. This is what we do. This is our WHY. This is Notre Dame softball.
For Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf, it’s personal. Her daughter, Tatum, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age four in the summer of 2010, and has now been in remission for nearly two years. Cancer fundraisers are not new to collegiate sports, but Gumpf’s colleagues and players encouraged her to do something different.
Historically, the fundraising spotlight in women’s athletics has been exclusive to the fight against breast cancer, but Notre Dame softball was among the first teams in the country to break that mold with an event to raise awareness and funds for blood cancers.
“This is different, wearing orange, making a stand against leukemia,” Gumpf says. “We don’t have to do a pink game just to do a pink game. This is something that our whole team feels very strongly about, in a way that matters to them and gives them a purpose. It’s something we’re proud of and excited about.”
What makes Coach Gumpf most proud and most excited? “The girls have taken more and more initiative with this every year we’ve done it. They come up with great ideas that we never would have thought of, and they do it, and it’s successful. They own this. It’s not just one weekend, it’s their whole season.”
“Another great thing is that we get to see where the money is going,” Gumpf says. “It doesn’t go into some fund that we never know about. It goes into tangible things that make a difference in the lives of children with cancer. There are two new playrooms in the hematology/oncology clinic at Memorial Children’s Hospital. We adopt children from the unit and get them Christmas gifts. We send kids on Wish Trips. We pay for hotel rooms and gas for families who have to travel down to Indianapolis for radiation treatments. So we’re seeing the money at work in very real ways.”
This coming weekend will feature the fourth annual Strikeout Cancer weekend hosted by Notre Dame softball. Come cheer on your Irish and help in the fight against leukemia and pediatric cancer! Event details and schedules can be found here.