By Greg Phipps
---- — The Triton football team is off to a promising 2-0 start on the field, but on Wednesday, Viking players and coaches received a dose of off-field motivation and inspiration when they took a tour of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Dana-Farber invited Triton for a visit after a donation of $22,000 on behalf of the school’s football program was made during the Dana-Farber fundraising radiothon in August. During Wednesday’s tour, the team was able to witness in person the kind of impact its contribution, and all contributions, have on patients and research.
It also left members of the team with a heightened sense of social and communal obligation. In fact, players on all three Viking football teams (freshmen, junior varsity and varsity) are participating this fall in a Dana Farber fundraising project, aptly titled “Triton Points for Dana Farber.”
“The players were very interested, and they asked a lot of questions during the tour,” said Triton head coach Pat Sheehan. “I know it made them more excited about the fundraiser. It really helped for them to see where the money is going to and how it’s being used.”
The Dana-Farber Institute was founded in 1947 with the aid of its main benefactor, The Jimmy Fund. The institute provides cancer patients of all ages with the best treatment available and continues to work to develop cures through cutting-edge research.
Recently completed was the new Yawkey Center care and treatment facility, named in honor of late Boston Red Sox owners and Jimmy Fund supporters Tom and Jean Yawkey. The Jimmy Fund has been the official charity of the Red Sox since 1950.
Triton players came away impressed with the quality of the facilities and the overall operation at Dana-Farber.
“It’s amazing how the place has such a positive feel to it. It’s not the way you would normally think of a hospital,” said senior tri-captain Justin Spillane. “I think this was a great team-building experience. It will motivate us as a team and as a part of the community.”
Senior teammate and fellow tri-captain Brad Whitman said members of the team can share what they learned from Wednesday’s experience.
“I think it will help us bring awareness to our community about what’s being done (at Dana-Farber),” he said. “Seeing this today really makes me appreciate my life more and realize how lucky I am to be able to play football. It makes me want to do all I can to help.”
Senior tri-captain Pat Moran expressed similar sentiments.
“It gives you a lot to think about — that there are people out there who have a much bigger struggle in life,” he said. “To see what’s being done there and how many lives they’re saving, it’s such a great cause, you want to support it as much as possible.”
Coach Sheehan said Wednesday’s visit consisted strictly of a tour of the facility, its projects and operations, and did not include meeting patients. But the atmosphere of strength and hope that exists at the institute couldn’t help but rub off.
“The people there are very kind and generous,” he said. “It’s a very warm environment, and you can tell everyone is making sure patients and their families are as comfortable and cared for as possible.”
As part of the team’s “Triton Points for Dana-Farber” event this fall, players will collect pledges. People can donate either a fixed amount or an amount for each point the Vikings score in their home game against Newburyport on Oct. 11. All of the money raised will go to Dana-Farber and The Jimmy Fund.
The school also hopes to have a representative from Dana-Farber at the Oct. 11 game to share what the institute does and what the funds are used for.