‘Seeing Pink’ helps students save green

By Austin Miller

Nearly 232,670 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, according to the American Cancer Society. Two students affected by the disease will be able to find a minute consolation for their experiences.

The Saluki Strength Breast Cancer Fund will award two $750 scholarships every year starting with the 2015 fall semester.

Juniors and seniors can apply for the scholarship starting in January. To apply, students must have a GPA of 2.5 and submit an essay.


Tena Bennett, Student Center director, said students’ essays will explain how the disease has altered their lives. She said the essays should be honest and authentic to prove the story’s accuracy.

Tena, who had a close friend diagnosed with breast cancer last week, said she hopes the campaign can continue to raise awareness for breast cancer, and other forms of cancer, too.

“Cancer has affected every person in some way,” she said. “It could be a sibling, mother, or even a father. For breast cancer, October is more than just a month.”

Bennett said Saluki Strength can give these awards because of the success of the “Start Seeing Pink” campaign in October, which raised $5,200.

Bennett said the group did not know what to expect since it was the university’s inaugural campaign for breast cancer, but was satisfied with the results.

Several events and fundraisers were held during the month, including the Human Pink Ribbon, Be My Bra contest and Big Pink Volleyball tournament. Donations and proceeds from pink bracelet and T-shirt sales also contributed to the total.

Shane Bennett, assistant director of intramural sports and sport clubs, and Tena’s husband, created the Big Pink Volleyball National Network in 2002 while attending Western Illinois University. His charity has raised more than $150,000 at 15 other universities.


Shane, who lost his mother to breast cancer in junior high school, said he never thought about scholarships when going through his tragedy, but recognizes it as a tremendous opportunity. He said words could not describe how grateful he would be to someone who helped him during that time.

“To get something positive out of such a negative experience says a lot about the staff on campus,” he said.

Rae Goldsmith, university spokesperson, said the university is proud of the SIU community for showing this amount of generosity, and helping two students pay for their education.

“Breast cancer touches not only the lives of those who have it, but the lives of their family and friends as well,” she said.

The scholarship application will become available mid-January on the SIU scholarships website. The deadline to apply is March 15, and students should be notified before April 1.

Donations can be made year-round on the Saluki Strength website.

Austin Miller can be reached at [email protected]