Cancer survivors have their day of fun
The 25th annual celebration of Michiana Cancer Survivors Day was held Sunday at Coveleski Stadium.
The group gathered for a day of fun at the ball park, including the South Bend Silver Hawks’ Midwest League baseball game against the Lansing Lugnuts.
According to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, a cancer survivor is anyone with a history of cancer, from the moment of diagnosis through the rest of their lives.
On Sunday, all 2-year-old Taylor Contreras wanted to do was dance. And dance she did.
As Taylor, dressed up pretty in pink, rocked her head back and forward to the music, she fit right in with the sea of pink shirts.
“She’s doing well and she’s over there with my friend dancing,” said Sarah Contreras, Taylor’s mother. “She had rhabdomyosarcoma, a childhood cancer. It’s just so nice to come to a game like this and not have people stare at her and wonder what she had. This is a great way for her to just be a little girl having fun. No questions asked.”
Just seeing all the cancer survivors and their families was a touching moment for Don Hall, vice president and chairperson of the Michiana Cancer Survivors Society for this year’s event.
“Every day survivors have to deal with chemo and radiation, so this day gives them a chance to just enjoy themselves and not think about what they are going though. I know, because I too am a survivor and there’s nothing better than enjoying a great baseball game on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.”
Survivors were presented shirts as they stood in long lines waiting for the events to begin. They were treated to a picnic lunch and entertainment beginning at noon. At 1:15 p.m., Field of Dreams participants walked a lap around the bases with Swoop, the Silver Hawks’ mascot.
At the 2 p.m. start of the game, Robert Finn sang the National Anthem. It marked his fifth time singing at the event.
National Cancer Survivors Day holds a special meaning for Finn. He is a 16-year cancer survivor and recently lost his wife to the disease.
“I’m so excited,” he said before singing. “I get a little nervous but I’m really anxious to sing.”
Meanwhile, Pat Fenters, of Osceola, was wearing a special pink shirt given to her last year by friends. “I think coming to the stadium is great because you are here with others that are going though the same things you are and that’s very important. Today I feel great and I’m a three-year survivor.”
The event was sponsored by The Pokagon Fund, Memorial Hospital, Michana Hematology Oncology, Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center and the Silver Hawks. Other sponsors included Elkhart General Hospital and Martin’s Supermarket of Michiana.
Versi English of South Bend summed up the day. “It feels great to just be alive,” she said.
Staff writer May Lee Johnson: