Lynx Make SAGE Donation During On-Court Presentation

Mark Remme
Lynx Editor/Writer

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During the Minnesota Lynx inaugural season in 1999, the team made a donation to the Minnesota Department of Health’s SAGE Screening Program.

The money, used along with a federal grant, helped SAGE execute its goal of providing breast and cervical cancer screenings and raised awareness for low-income, uninsured or underinsured women around the state. Dr. Jonathan Slater, who has been with SAGE since its inception in 1991, said the Lynx were mentioned for donating toward the project in a subsequent paper outlining the initiative.

On Tuesday as Minnesota took on the Los Angeles Sparks at Target Center, the Lynx again pledged their support toward SAGE’s cause. The Lynx donated $5,000 toward the SAGE Screening Program, which will help women statewide with financial restrictions receive free mammograms and Pap tests.

“I can’t overstate its importance,” Slater said of being recognized in front of 8,123 at Target Center. “We don’t have the money to get our name out there. If we did, a lot more women would be getting screened.”

Slater, Chief of the Cancer Control Program for the Minnesota Department of Health, Ellen Benavides, Assistant Commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health and Mary Manning, Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Division Director for the Minnesota Department of Health all were on hand to receive the check from team president Chris Wright.

SAGE provides a year-round screening program that offers free breast exams, mammograms and Pap tests to eligible women 40 years of age or older. The program’s mission is to provide those free screenings, diagnostics and treatment services to uninsured and underinsured Minnesota women.

The program was founded in 1991, and Minnesota was one of four states funded in the national program, Slater said. That number grew to 16 states by 1993, and today every state, territory and the District of Columbia are part of the program.

Approximately 18,500 women are screened each year. Since 1991, SAGE has served more than 138,000 women by providing more than 462,000 mammograms and Pap tests. They’ve detected more than 2,000 breast and cervical cancers.

Slater said during the past two decades, the importance of heightened awareness toward breast cancer and the practice of early detection has grown tremendously, and as a result the survival rate for breast cancer has begun to increase.

Another part of the equation is simply helping educate women on the importance of early detection.

“There are a lot of people who don’t know about cancer risks,” Slater said.

Women who would like more information or would like to set up a free exam can reach SAGE at 1-888-6HEALTH.

Slater said having an opportunity to not only receive a donation from the Lynx organization but to receive the check in front of the Target Center crowd will go a long way toward getting the word out to the general public who might not be aware of their service.

“To have an opportunity to be in a place like this where we have people who are listening, people who are present, sort of collateral people here who tell people who aren’t here,” Slater said. “People just starting to recognize our name more so that when they hear the name it registers. It’s huge.”

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