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More than 170 pickleball players raise $20K to fight breast cancer

The Dink for Pink Pickleball Event was held Saturday in Anthem Ranch.

Courts at Anthem Ranch were filled with pickleball players, plenty of pink, passion and pride Saturday as more than 170 women raised $20,000 to fight breast cancer.

The women came together for the Dink for Pink Pickleball Event and Sisterhood of the Pink - Social to raise money for the Susan G. Komen organization, one of the world’s largest breast cancer fundraising foundations. The nonprofit funds research, programs, advocacy and community health outreach in more than 60 countries.

“T” Kinning-Pflueger, chair of the pickleball fundraiser, said the event is about “the power of hope, the power of sisterhood and the power of believing you can conquer the mountain.

“It’s the power of people coming together — it’s that support, and believing that you can get through it, having the hope that you can get through it, and our goal is to have a day in this world where there is no breast cancer,” she said.

The event began with a moment of silence to honor the lives lost to breast cancer. Women of all skill levels then paired up and played pickleball for several hours on eight courts.

Debby Vigna, a breast cancer survivor, was one of the players. 

“I was diagnosed first in 2011 with breast cancer, and I went through a lumpectomy and chemo and radiation, and then three years later I was diagnosed again,” Vigna said. “So I ended up with a double mastectomy, a hysterectomy and reconstruction.”

Then in 2016, her sister was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and died several years later, Vigna said.

Jodie Damioli, an event participant and volunteer, learned that she and her three sisters have the BRCA gene, which made them far more likely to get breast cancer.

“None of us have breast cancer, but all four of us are going through mastectomies — two of them are having reconstruction, implants, and two of us are going through what we call ‘flat’ — it’s called ‘AFC,’ aesthetic flat closure,” Damioli said. “This way it’s a clean surgery, there’s no leftover skin, everything is flat, and it looks nice, and you go on with your life.”

After the pickleball games, survivors, caregivers and advocates spoke at the Sisterhood of the Pink - Social — all encouraging attendees to never give up in the battle against breast cancer. One of the speakers, Wendy Ping, lost her 38-year-old daughter-in-law — a mother of two — to breast cancer.

“This is a wonderful tribute, in my mind, to my daughter-in-law and the fight that she went through,” Ping said. “She fought metastatic breast cancer for five years. She battled very hard, she was in clinical trials, she went through 10 different chemo and immunotherapy regimens — almost no metastatic breast cancer patients tolerate more than two.”

Breast cancer has touched such a huge part of the Anthem Ranch community, Ping said.

“Not only because we’re an aged 55 and older community — many people here have children and daughters-in-law who are fighting breast cancer,” she said.

Marge Hansen, an event volunteer and 19-year breast cancer survivor, is passionate about educating women to be vigilant.