Field Hockey to Raise Breast Cancer Awareness

Andover Field Hockey will don pink uniforms in its game against Middlesex on Wednesday to raise awareness for breast cancer and in support of Runway for Recovery, an organization founded by the team’s assistant coach, Olivia Achtmeyer, Instructor in English. Achtmeyer said, “[The team] will play the game to make a statement, to raise awareness and to make it clear that they recognize the bravery and heroism that comes with fighting the battle against breast cancer.” Co-Captain Kellie Walsh ’11 generated the idea for the “Playing for Pink” game in recognition of October as Breast Cancer Awareness month. “The idea for playing for pink came about while I was sitting at the dinner table with my mom and dad one night talking about Olivia’s organization,” Walsh said. “My family somehow came up with the idea of ordering pink shirts for the team to wear just to support Olivia and make people aware of a great cause.” Breast Cancer Awareness is a cause close to the hearts of both Walsh and Achtmeyer, as the disease has affected both of their immediate families. Achtmeyer founded her non-profit, Runway for Recovery, four years ago in memory of her mother, who battled breast cancer for 10 years. “[My mother] had had a very private but brave battle with breast cancer for 10 years but succumbed to her illness in October of 2001 when I was a sophomore in college,” Achtmeyer said. “In 2007 I decided that it was time to find a way to support those affected by the disease, and since my career has been focused in child & adolescent education, supporting children with mothers battling breast cancer became the cause I would focus on.” Runway for Recovery organizes an annual fashion show and silent action in Concord, Massachusetts. The proceeds are donated to The Patient Care Giver Fund at Massachusetts General Hospital, which pays for hotel bills for families that are forced to travel to receive medical treatment, counseling programs for patients’ children and bereavement training for doctors and nurses. The fashion show itself is unique in that the models are all either breast cancer survivors or children women who have passed away because of the disease. In addition to wearing pink jerseys, players from Andover and Middlesex’s teams will help with decorations for the Runway for Recovery fashion show. Achtmeyer worked at Middlesex for five years before coming to Andover, so the Middlesex game was a fitting venue for the “Playing for Pink” event. Walsh said, “My mom had breast cancer when I was 11, so my parents believe in this cause and offered to pay for all of Andover’s apparel for the game. Middlesex was on board and is paying for their gear. We are hoping to make this into an annual game, although I will not be here next year to see it.” Those not on the field hockey team can support Achtmeyer’s organization by donating items to the silent auction, referring possible models to the organization or donating online at Achtmeyer said, “I couldn’t be more humbled by the response of my new Andover family. My mother loved the fall, she loved athletics and she loved the school life, so of course I will take away a tremendous amount of gratitude for PA and the efforts to get involved.”