May14 NC web banner-1By Rosemary Garrity

 Keep those fingers crossed! Can the Pirates not only repeat the great season they had last year…or better yet…surpass it??  That’s what most Pittsburghers are hoping they can do. And why not?  The roster is very strong with players like hometown hero, Neil Walker, Andrew McCutcheon, Pedro Alvarez, and Gerrit Cole, to name a few.  In addition, last year’s Manager of the Year, Clint Hurdle, is still at the helm and looking forward to a very productive season.  To many, this team is destined to do well.  That is the HOPE!

 PNC Park is expected to have sell-out crowds for games this season. The venue has been nationally recognized as one of the best ballparks for fans.  The breathtaking panoramic view of the city is often mentioned as a major attraction.  On May 25, the Pirates will once again host Pitch for Hope, a charity event for A Glimmer of Hope Foundation, an organization which funds breast cancer research, primarily for pre-menopausal women. Sponsors include Highmark, Allegheny Health Network, rue21 and Diehl Automotive. This is a very special day for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, as well as, for women in general.  The participants purchase tickets that include a t-shirt, a game ticket, and a delicious brunch.  What makes this day very exciting is that the women get to be on the field with some Pirate players and coaches, if they’d like that experience. The attire is casual because they will be running and fielding balls. Comfortable shoes are a must! Last year several hundred women were active participants, and this year, the event appears to be attracting even more.

One of the reasons that this is such a fun-filled day is because the coaches and players are so encouraging. Many of them know women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and so they are very supportive.  Clint Hurdle’s mother is a breast cancer survivor and he knows all too well how devastating this disease can be, and how it affects the whole family. Unfortunately, the incidence of breast cancer in women is about 1 in 8.  On the positive side, about three million women in the United States have survived breast cancer. The statistics seem to indicate that there has been good progress made in the detection and treatment of this disease. Carolyn Walker, mother of Neil Walker, understands the impact of the disease. “Like everyone else, cancer has touched my life…a favorite aunt, a special neighbor, a close friend’s mom, a paddle tennis teammate. It is indeed a terrifying disease, but breakthroughs in medical research and treatment are giving us more hope than ever before. HOPE.  What a powerful thing!” Women who attend this event are varied…some have had breast cancer, or others are there to simply demonstrate their support.  Another segment simply knows that this is an important cause, and they get to have a great time while learning a little more about baseball.

When the morning “training” session is done, the women head to The Deck above The Trib Total News Media Hall of Fame Club for brunch.  Before and during brunch, they can bid on a variety of baskets that have been donated by supporters. The selection is unbelievable!  For sports fans, there are baskets with sports memorabilia and for the fashionistas, “girlie” baskets of beauty items, seasonal baskets and jewelry are there to win.  The ladies who hold the winning tickets will not be disappointed! The Pirates are scheduled to play the Nationals that afternoon, and these lucky women are invited to stay for the game.

Diana Napper, founder of A Glimmer of Hope Foundation, will be there to thank the Pirates and the women who attend, for their support. “We are very appreciative of the on-going assistance that we receive from the Pirates organization, in our effort to find a cure for this dreaded disease.” For the past few years, the women who have attended this event have walked away with a greater appreciation of not only the game of baseball, but also for the players and coaches who helped to make this day so special. This year, women who want to support the cause, but don’t want the field experience, can arrive post clinic and stay for brunch and the game.  For that Guest group, the tickets cost $50 and $65 for those who participate in the entire event. For more information about Pitch for Hope that will be held on May 25 starting at 7:30 am at PNC Park, visit pirates.com/pitchforhope or Angela.Criscella@Pirates.com

A Glimmer of Hope Foundation is gaining more recognition in the area as evidenced by the increase in the number of events that are planned for the summer and fall. On June 7, the Treesdale Women’s Golf Organization will host the third annual Par-Tee for Hope at the Treesdale Golf and Country Club. Co-chairs of the event are Jocelyn Thompson and Diane Blakeney. Monies raised at this golf outing will help to purchase specialized equipment that will be used by research staff at local hospitals. Then on August 22, Eileen Early and her committee are planning The First Annual Dimond Golf Outing that will be held at North Park Golf Course. Early has a relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she is determined to do her part to help find a cure for this disease. For more information about this golf outing, please contact Anne at northparkglimmerofhope@gmail.com.

On June 13, the Meadows Casino and Racetrack in Washington, PA will host a Ladies Night out that will include a fashion show. It will surely attract women who want to support A Glimmer of Hope and have a great night out with friends. Then on June 26, the Pirates will host a huge Zumba event outside of PNC Park. Zumba is a fitness program that combines aerobic and dance elements and is performed to Latin American music.  It has become one of the most popular group exercise classes in clubs everywhere! Women and men alike seem to really enjoy this activity because it seems like they are just dancing…but still reap the benefits of exercise.  Proceeds from this fun-filled activity will benefit A Glimmer of Hope Foundation. Another summer attraction is scheduled on July 16 and 17, when The Home Depot will sponsor the fifth annual Clays for the Cure at Seven Springs Mountain Resort Clay Course.

 Diana Napper is very grateful for all the support A Glimmer of Hope Foundation continues to receive from all of these organizations. “The proceeds from all of these events will enable the Foundation to continue to donate funds for research and equipment to various hospitals, so that we may soon find a cure for breast cancer. Our goal is to give women HOPE!”