After losing her father to cancer at just five years old, Mimi Duran, head coach of Ethel Walker Field Hockey, made it her goal to help raise awareness for cancer patients and their families. Since bringing Play4TheCure to Ethel Walker, she has risen to this occasion.
Duran had been involved with Relay for Life events in the past but the she wanted to do more. With Relay for Life, “It still didn’t seem like I got enough kids involved, interested or raised enough funds for it,” noted Duran. “The girls could do more to be involved with other teams and raise more funds.”
This is where the idea of Ethel Walker Field Hockey’s annual Play Day began. The Play Day brings together the community for one common goal: to raise funds and awareness for cancer research. As Mimi mentions on Ethel Walker’s Crowdrise website, “Play Day is a way to celebrate cancer survivors, remember loved ones and fundraise to fight cancer.”
The Play Day
The response has been incredible. On the day of the event you can drive by Ethel Walker and see each of the 14 team names displayed prominently on the fence surrounding the school. These teams come together to compete throughout the day in the spirit of helping individuals affected by cancer in some way.
The event begins at 8:30 am with two games. Once all the teams arrive, the players, referees, and families gather in the center of the field around 9:00 am. Duran offers a few words about the event, including personal stories of those affected by cancer, followed by a reflective moment of silence. The school’s acapella group donates their time to sing the national anthem. Once this small ceremony is complete, Play Day commences.
Student-athletes grades 6-9 participate in the games while the upper classmen coordinate logistics and ensure the event runs smoothly. There is a list of tasks during the day that the upper classmen are responsible for including setting up the field, emceeing the event, running game clocks, and working the snack bar. Aside from scheduling, getting referees, and recruiting additional teams, the student-athletes take the lead.
Every year the team sets up an online fundraising page through Crowdrise, however their fundraising efforts go far beyond setting up a website.
During Play Day, tents are set up around the fields where fans participate in the tea cup raffle. Parents assist with securing donations from surrounding towns, and this year they were pleased to receive 60 donations. Spectators fill out a ticket and place it in a decorative pink jar representing different prizes such as gift cards, apparel, or concert tickets. The grand prize this year was a ski trip to Argentina for four! Ten of these raffles prizes are saved for Ethel Walker’s Parents’ Weekend to reach a larger audience and those who were unable to attend the game.
Baked goods are made by the students. Traditionally, day students invite the boarding students over to bake for the event each year. These baked goods are sold the day of the event as well as pizza donated from a local business. Aside from selling snacks the team also sells long sleeve t-shirts and sweatshirts, which is a large portion of their fundraising efforts. About 45% of the total raised comes from the shirts, sweatshirts and pizza sales! On Friday before the Play Day, students set up the tents and tea cup raffle early so Ethel Walker faculty so the faculty can see what they have to offer at lunch.
Duran’s commitment to her team and Play4TheCure is remarkable. Each and every year she encourages her athletes to make a difference and contribute to the ongoing research to find a cure for cancer. This year the Ethel Walker Play Day event raised $8,795 bringing their lifetime total with Play4TheCure to $31,623!