April 13, 2011

The Nation’s Third Oldest College Newspaper

Volume 81, Issue 10

Join NU for the first 'SLAMphoma!' event

Mark the date: On Sunday, May 8, Niagara University's softball team, in conjunction with Hilbert College's softball team, will hold its first SLAMphoma. The event seeks to Knock Lymphoma Out of the Park. All are encouraged to attend the activity, which includes home run Derby, food and fun.

Jenna Baker, a 2010 graduate and active softball player at NU, was recently diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma, a blood cancer that affects the lymph glands. She is currently receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  In an effort to alleviate some of her medical costs, the drive is being held to help her family. It will also raise awareness of the disease.

While most people are excited about finding a new job or finding that new apartment to settle into, Jenna and her family cannot said Gabrielle Lustrinelli, one of NU's softball players and a dear friend of Baker's. They have to worry about Jenna's radiation and chemotherapy. No child or parent should ever have to worry about that.

Baker was a very talented softball player during her time at NU. She was a four-year starter for the team and held the season records for most consecutive home runs. Her teammates and the crowd enjoyed watching her bat because she was such a gifted player.

Senior captain Kayla Hines reflected on her experiences on the softball team with Baker.

From the moment I came to Niagara, Jenna made me feel like a part of the team, said Hines. She went out of her way to help me adjust to life at college as a student and as an athlete. She was always the person we could turn to when we needed to talk. She was someone I was able to look up to as a role model for how the game should be played and how someone should carry themselves on and off the field.

I always looked up to Jenna, said Lustrinelli. She was the starting center fielder and she had one hell of an arm! I still remember in the batting line-up it was Teresa Healy, and then Jenna. Teresa was an amazing hitter and we all laughed when the opposing team purposely walked her to get to Jenna, not realizing Jenna was an amazing hitter, too.  

Baker's biggest fans are her parents, Norm and Patti Baker. In addition to attending all her games, they ran the concession stand for seven years.

Though Baker is battling a disease, her teammates describe her as enthused, positive and optimistic.

Being a part of the team at Niagara, Jenna has experienced loss and has been able to get right back up from it, and I believe she is doing the same thing with cancer, said Hines. She truly has the heart and soul of a fighter and her dedication to leading a life of success will help her through this.

Cancer is scary for anyone, yet, you do not see that on Jenna's face, said Lustrinelli. Every single time I see Jenna since the diagnosis, she has a smile on her face. If anyone can overcome this cancer, it's Jenna Baker. She is an amazingly strong human being and I know she will overcome this.

T-shirts are being pre-ordered to benefit the Baker family. The T-shirts will be neon green with the details First Annual SLAMphoma on the front, Knock Lymphoma Out of the Park on the back, and J.B. #8 on the right sleeve. The cost is $10 each.

NU is asking that participants, teams and businesses make a pledge to donate a set amount per home run(s).  To donate, make checks to: Niagara University softball, with SLAMphoma in the memo line. For more information, visit http://niagarasoftball.blogspot.com/2011/03/benefit-for-jenna-baker.html.

I think it is important for people to participate in this fundraiser and help raise awareness because you never know when this could affect someone in your life, said Hines. This is not something that can be predicted, and we do not know if it can be prevented, so any small donation is one step closer to help stop this from affecting others.
Lustrinelli added, There are so many people diagnosed with cancer, but by having a supporting community and making people aware of what is out there, it is going to make those diagnosed want to fight not only for themselves, but for others who have it, too.

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