When the Marcellus girls lacrosse team took to the field last Thursday night, their purpose was far greater than to simply win another game. As the guest team for the fourth annual "Under the Lights" benefit game at Tully High School, the Mustangs were responsible for helping to raise more than $11,000 for the Carol Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund.
The Upstate NY charity was formed in 2002 to raise money for breast cancer research, and all the money it receives stays in the area, funding programs at SUNY Upstate Medical University.
"The Tully community has been extremely supportive of the program, especially for such a small community," said Beth Baldwin, daughter of Carol Baldwin. She said the "Under The Lights" game has been one of the largest third-party fundraisers for the charity, raising almost $50,000 over the past four years.
The annual event has become a staple of the Tully community, and has grown to include a chicken barbecue, several raffles, T-shirt sales, concessions, pink hair extensions and a silent auction. According to JoAnn Featherstone, who organized this year's event, 100 percent of proceeds from the fundraiser go directly to the Carol Baldwin Fund.
Despite the rainy weather, the event raised $11,819.65, including a $1,000 donation from Tully Superintendent of Schools Kraig Pitts. Over the course of the night, volunteers sold 500 barbeque chickens and several hundred raffle tickets.
Marcellus lacrosse players and coaches were enthusiastic in their first year of involvement with the fundraiser, encouraging local businesses to sponsor the event. Two of the team's captains, Catherine Nolan and Nora Barry, appeared on WSYR's "Bridge Street" to promote the game.
"It felt amazing playing for all those people who cared enough to come out in the pouring rain to support a good cause, and was really gratifying to see how much of a difference we could make as a team," Nolan said.
Molly McGuane, a sophomore on the team, echoed her sentiments.
"[The fundraiser] really brought the teams together," she said.
The game was won by Tully 20-16.
Eric Morris is a senior at Marcellus High School.