Sept. 15, 2008
LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. - Head women's basketball coach Gina Castelli received the 11th annual BMW Hero Award from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Northeastern New York because of her efforts in educating the public on breast cancer. Castelli was honored in a ceremony at Keeler BMW in Latham today which ended with her driving the lead car in the parade.
"I am honored to receive this award," said Castelli. "We have had a wonderful partnership with CRAAB that has allowed us to educate the community on breast cancer awareness. I am humbled that Susan G. Komen for the Cure and BMW chose me to receive the Hero Award, but I know all too well that the real heroes are all those women and men that have had to fight to survive the disease."
Castelli said a few words during the award presentation and then drove the lead car with her assistant coaches during the parade. BMW partners with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, donating $1 million annually to the nonprofit organization.
The Komen NENY advisory board receives nominations before selecting the candidate who best reflects a Komen Hero. In 2001, Castelli and the women's basketball program started their annual breast cancer awareness game, working with Capital Region Action Against Breast Cancer (CRAAB). The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference implemented the league-wide "Think Pink" game in 2005 taking Castelli's forward thinking to the conference level.
Siena women's basketball has helped raise over $5,000 toward CRAAB's mission of helping people cope with breast cancer. The annual Think Pink game honors local breast cancer survivors by having them accompany student-athletes during pregame introductions. An honoree then sings the National Anthem before the game. There are also display tables where people can obtain information about breast cancer.
"What's more important than the partnership between Siena and CRAAB is the dedication to educating young women and men on breast cancer risk reduction," said CRAAB founding member and co-president Joan Sheehan. "Gina's always coming up with new ideas and has progressed the game that she and the late Siena professor Dr. Patricia Brown started years ago."
Susan G. Komen for the Cure launched its global breast cancer movement in 1982. Today, Komen for the Cure is the world's largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. They have invested nearly $1 billion to fulfill their promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.