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Targeting Cancer: Annual tournament takes a swing at breast cancer

Approximately 63 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer this week in Oregon, according to the American Cancer Society. That is why 10 teams of softball players from Lane County travel to Salem one weekend each summer to join a movement that is taking a swing at cancer.

Approximately 63 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer this week in Oregon, according to the American Cancer Society.

That is why 10 teams of softball players from Lane County travel to Salem one weekend each summer to join a movement that is taking a swing at cancer.

With support from friends and family, Kris Knox, an officer with the Salem Police Department, organized the first Play for a Cure softball tournament 15 years ago. She did so in honor of her mom, Linda, who was fighting breast cancer. Linda passed away just months before the first pitch was thrown.

“My mom was 56-years-old when she died, and I was not ready to lose her,” Kris says. “And I was very angry and frustrated—this was a way to channel all of that negative energy and turn it into something positive.”

Breast cancer can be a frustrating disease, and when it affects you directly or someone you love, it can make you feel helpless.

The tournament has become an opportunity to raise awareness about breast cancer and to educate women and men about the importance of self-exams and regular screenings—and to spread the message that breast cancer can happen to anyone at any time. Eight years after starting the tournament, Kris was diagnosed with the same cancer that took her mom.

“She probably didn’t know at the time that she was saving my life. But by traveling that journey with her, it did save my life,” Kris explains. “That’s why I wear a T-shirt that says ‘Some people may never get to meet their hero, but I was raised by mine.’”

The tournament, held each August, attracts teams from all around Oregon for three days of play at Wallace Park. This year, the tournament hosted 77 games—taking time to celebrate survivors and remember those lost to breast cancer.

“Every game that we play during the tournament is started by a breast cancer survivor throwing out softballs that are sponsored in honor or in memory of someone who’s had breast cancer,” she says.

With each crack of the bat, empowerment erases hopelessness, proving that strength really can be found in numbers.

“We want everyone to know that no one fights alone,” Kris says.

Unlike other tournaments, where trophies are handed out to the teams with the most wins, Play for a Cure gives awards to the teams that raise the most money.

To date, Play for a Cure has raised over half a million dollars for breast cancer cancer research and programs around the state. For more information on Play for a Cure, click here.

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