Liberty Honor Legendary Kay Yow with Breast Health Awareness Night

Since their inception, the New York Liberty have been pioneers at the forefront in raising money for causes near and dear to women everywhere. This includes their annual Breast Health Awareness Night, which this year was particularly meaningful as the proceeds went to benefit the Kay Yow Fund in honor of the legendary coach who passed away from breast cancer this past January.

Perhaps no one was as moved as the Liberty’s President and General Manager Carol Blazejowski, who formed a bond over the years with Yow during her own storied basketball career.

“This is a very special platform because we are here to raise awareness for Breath Health, and we are also here to raise money to find a cure for cancer,” she said prior to tip-off. “It’s a special night for all of us, but this is particularly special for me tonight because the funds that we are raising are going to the Kay Yow Foundation. I played for Kay as a player, and she was a colleague of mine as well, and she touched many, many people’s lives. She was a very special person. So this is in her honor.”

The importance of the night also resonated with the players, with many explaining how their own lives have been impacted by a friend or loved one who suffered from breast cancer.

“A lot of us have had experiences with this disease,” said Loree Moore. “Personally, I’ve had family members and friends who suffered from it, and it allows us to think about them, remember them and do something about it. Sharing this experience with other people is important too as it can be therapeutic.”

Her teammate Tiffany Jackson couldn’t agree more.

“Just the fact that we are all women and are very susceptible to this disease, and that we have people on our team whose parents are survivors or have passed away from it, and here we are doing something about it, I think that is a very important thing.”

Doing their part, the players showed their support for breast health awareness by decking themselves all in pink from their sneakers to their warm-up shirts to their headbands and to painting their fingernails. The team also raffled off items such team-signed sneakers, a Kay Yow autographed basketball and many other prizes to help raise as much money as possible.

One of the highlights of the game was the pregame ceremony at center court. Normally, each Liberty player “passes the torch to the next generation” of basketball players by handing a ball to a young child. Tonight, however, each player met with a breast cancer survivor in a moving ceremony that meant a lot not only to the survivors, but to the players as well.

“Just to know there are people out there who are strong and overcame such a terrible thing, it puts things in perspective,” said Jackson. “It means a lot to be there at center court with them. This is a huge night for us.”

“It’s special to be out their congratulating them on their fight and surviving,” added Moore. “It’s always a pleasure to look up to these women because they faced something terrible and survived it. To pass them the ball and look into their eyes, it is special.”

The fact that the proceeds went to the Kay Yow Fund meant a lot to Moore as well.

“Kay Yow actually recruited me a lot when I was in high school,” she explained. “I never had the opportunity to meet her, but I still have the letters she sent me when she was recruiting me. She was always there for her teammates when she was playing and was always there for her players when she was coaching. She was a big, big part of the basketball community, so being able to raise money in her honor is an honor for us.”

Clearly, the combination of Yow’s impact on the game of women’s basketball as well as the importance of raising awareness for breast health made the night extra special for everyone involved. It is for that reason that Blazejowski wants to make it an even bigger league wide initiative.

“Breast cancer research has been one of our earliest initiatives, and I felt very strongly that this year should be in her honor,” she explained. “Not only that, I am going to do as much lobbying as I can to get all of our teams around the league galvanized to get behind this cause for this wonderful foundation.”