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Community hoops it up in Southington to help breast cancer survivors

By BOB COUPLAND

Staff writer

SOUTHINGTON — While some individuals were in one room shooting basketballs into hoops, others were in another room placing bids into small bags in front of more than 275 raffle items.

Both activities on Saturday afternoon were to help raise money for local women battling breast cancer.

The ninth annual “This Means War” 3-on-3 basketball tournament fundraiser was held at Southington Chalker High School with funds raised this year being given to Girard resident Michelle Tringhese, who has been fighting stage 2 breast cancer.

Southington resident Beth Ann Vanek, a cancer survivor and coordinator of “This Means War Against Breast Cancer Foundation” said while Tringehese was the one who is being helped this year, past recipients who have been helped during their cancer battles also were recognized.

Vanek said the event was originally started nine years ago to help her, but since then has been held each fall to help a local resident with breast cancer.

“We want to help these individuals with medical expenses they may have or with lost wages since some can’t work during their treatments and recovery and have to take time off from work,” Vanek said.

Tringhese, a mother of two children, said she was diagnosed with cancer in August 2018 and is recovering. She said she was able to work for a while as a mental health counselor in the private practice sector in two locations, but she did not work for a period when she was receiving treatments.

Vanek said Tringhese works as a counselor and the only way she is paid is if she sees clients, which she was not always able to do because ofsurgeries and treatments.

“If she can’t work, she doesn’t get sick time, so we saw how difficult this was for her,” Vanek said.

Tringhese received chemotherapy and underwent several surgeries, including an emergency operation for an infection.

“I thought there were people in worse situations then I was in. I was floored when they contacted me and wanted to help me. I will never be able to thank them enough for helping me. Someone is looking out for me. Private practice work is very very good when you are healthy, but when you are not healthy and can’t get there to see your clients because of an emergency surgery, it is hard. That kept me out of work for longer than I ever planned,” Tringhese said.

Tringhese and her son, Zachary, 11, who was wearing a shirt, “We Fight Together” were looking over the many basket raffle items.

Tringhese said when she got on stage to speak, she never expected to see so many people.

“I did not expect this event to be this big. It’s important to be able to share your story with others,” she said.

Vanek said there were more than 40 teams from elementary age participants through adults playing three-on-three basketball.

Kelli Weir, Vanek’s sister who helped at the event, said this is the most basket raffle items the event has ever had with items placed on several tables in the cafeteria.

‘We have basketball players from all over. Some are from Pennsylvania,” she said.

Howland resident Amy Turek, a breast cancer survivor and 2014 benefit recipient, said the event “is awesome and really helped her.”

Heather Booth of Howland, the 2015 event recipient, said she comes back to the event to share her appreciation for the help she received.

Vanek said many of the recipients are younger women who have battled breast cancer.

“We want this to also raise awareness of being checked for breast cancer at all ages,” she said.

Ken Moy, who coordinated the basketball teams, said there were more girl teams taking part this year.

“We had 42 teams sign up and 40 or 41 teams taking part. We are always glad to have the participants,” he said.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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