Tanya Snyder, wife of Redskins owner Dan Snyder, and the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, hosted 31 breast cancer survivors as a part of the ninth annual All-Star Survivors Celebration in partnership with the American Cancer Society during the breast cancer awareness game on Sunday, Oct. 16.*
Before the game, Mrs. Snyder hosted the survivors and their families for a pre-game tailgate party where she spoke with each individual survivor and shared words of encouragement. Before kickoff, the survivors were honored on the field and formed the tunnel for the Redskins player introductions.
The Washington Redskins on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, hosted their annual Breast Cancer Awareness Game at FedExField in Landover, Md.
"It's a bittersweet moment, but I love what Tanya is doing with the American Cancer Society, it's really awesome," Chanda White, a breast cancer survivor from Hampton, Va., said. "It lets me know I'm not the only one out here fighting. Never give up hope. To be amongst other survivors, it makes you feel good and lets you know to keep going on in your journey."
Since Tanya Snyder and the Washington Redskins launched breast cancer awareness efforts in the NFL in 1999, the awareness campaign has been adopted league -wide and October has become synonymous with breast cancer awareness.
"This event means a variety of things," Jane Rodgers, executive director of the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, said. "Number one is that we're really helping women know how to take care of themselves. That's the most important thing. But it also feels like history, since this franchise launched pink in the NFL.I'm always reminded of Tanya Snyder's efforts to take on a cause and use the power of the NFL brand and really move that forward. We feel great about what we do around it and every year we try to add something exciting."
Rodgers said early diagnosis and testing had an extra emphasis at this year's event.
To raise awareness before the Breast Cancer Awareness game, Mrs. Snyder invited hundreds of members of Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity to hand out pink ribbons and speak with fans. Zeta Tau Alpha works with NFL teams around the country to raise donations and awareness for cancer. For the Zeta members in attendance, speaking with survivors is a sobering and inspiring experience.
"It's amazing to see these people, because some people will come up and they'll get very emotional and say 'we love what you're doing,' because they've gone through it, their family has gone through it, and they love to talk to you and see what you're doing. It's so nice to see their faces glow up," VCU sophomore and Zeta member Sarah Stryhn said.
Ashley Sutton, a Zeta alumna who graduated from George Mason in 2001, attended the game with her family and was among the Zetas handing out ribbons with Mrs. Snyder. For the Suttons, breast cancer is personal. Ashley's husband, Joe, lost his mother to breast cancer, and he shared an emotional moment recounting his story with Mrs. Snyder. With watery eyes, Joe offered Mrs. Snyder a pink breast cancer awareness pin, which Mrs. Snyder wore during the game, and the two embraced in an emotional hug.
"It's a personal gift for (Mrs. Snyder) for the work and to say thank you for everything she does for breast cancer. We wanted to say thank you," Joe said. Ashley summed up the gift as, "just giving back." For Lynn Hansen of Reston, Va., a survivor nearing the end her chemotherapy, the day represented the beginning of a new chapter in her life. "It's the celebration of the end of a long journey that I didn't ever plan on."