Number of Participants: 38
Hours Donated: 20
Value of Time Served: $6,422
Event Amount Raised: $548
Event Type: Civic & Community
Date: October 1, 2018
112 Spackenkill Road
When Concetta Lanza was diagnosed in March with breast cancer, resulting in a double mastectomy the following month, she took minimal time away from work. Before long, she returned to teaching at Webutuck Elementary School.
She also has been a fixture on the sideline this fall during Spackenkill High School girls soccer games, cheering on the team that her husband coaches
But, never did she mention her condition to the team. In Lanza’s estimation, her battle is being fought and the focus there — as it is at work — should be on the kids.
So when the players presented her a customized jersey on Monday, and announced before a rapt audience that its game would be dedicated to her, she was surprised and overcome with emotion.
“She completely broke down,” her husband, Mike Lanza, said. “She cried and was very touched. It meant a whole lot to her.”
The team had decorated its field with balloons and banners, had organized a tent to conduct a bake sale, and brought enough relatives and classmates there to fill the bleachers. Concetta Lanza had assumed the pomp and circumstance was for the Spartans’ Senior Day celebration.
It also was Oct. 1, the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, during which several local athletic programs typically host charity fundraisers.
The Spartans made $405 on the first day and will continue to promote it, including during the boys soccer team’s matches. The group estimates they can raise more than $1,000 to be donated to the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation.
“Mr. Lanza discussed with us at the start of the season the idea of doing something for breast cancer awareness and we were like, ‘Oh yeah, let’s do it,'” senior Maddie McCall said. “Then he mentioned in passing that his wife had breast cancer. We knew we had to something for her.”
So the players, led by senior Kaitlyn Kilpert, began organizing this event in secret last month. Each of them baked pastries for the sale, spread the word to friends to attend and donate, and even purchased alternate soccer jerseys for themselves. The new duds were in accordance with Section 9 uniform rules, but with pink lettering and logos to signify breast cancer awareness. The boys soccer team did likewise.
“I mentioned my wife having had cancer to them in August, but that’s the last we spoke of it,” Mike Lanza said. “They took the initiative and did this.”
In fact, the coach wasn’t informed until last week, when the players wanted assurance that his wife would attend the game on Monday.
“Raising awareness and not letting people forget what cancer is doing is almost as important as raising the money,” McCall said. “It’s become so (prevalent) that everyone has family or loved ones who’ve been affected. We had someone standing on our own sideline.”
The jersey presented to Concetta Lanza was in the team’s signature green, with a pink ribbon in the center encircled by a ring of the players’ names.
“Coach has shown that he cares about us as people and not just players,” McCall said of Mike Lanza, who is in his first season as head coach. “We started feeling that with Mrs. Lanza, too. It’s amazing how strong she is. She’s always so supportive and at our games, and you find out she had breast cancer just this year. She’s an inspiration.”
Mike Lanza said his wife is doing well and “isn’t undergoing chemo now or anything,” although there are continuous follow-up examinations.
He and his family have lived in the Spackenkill area for 27 years and his wife once was an elementary school teacher’s assistant in the district. Some of the players remember her in the classroom when they were in the fourth and fifth grade.
“I’m 52 years old and I think some of the older generations think of millennials as a ‘me’ group, only consumed with themselves,” Mike Lanza said. “But that’s wrong. I’m encouraged more and more about our future with people like these coming up. These kids are outstanding people with a great sense of community awareness.”
They’re not too bad at soccer, either.
Kilpert scored four goals, including three in the first half, to lead the Spartans in a 6-0 win over Pine Plains on Monday. McCall switched from goalkeeper to midfield after intermission and she scored a second-half goal, along with freshman Madison Updike.
“We were connecting passes and Kait was on fire,” McCall said. “Once we got up 3-0 and the crowd was into it, we were so amped up. It was one of the most fulfilling games we’ve played. It was nice to play, not just to win, but for someone we care about.”
Stephen Haynes: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4