Winchester volleyball  coach John Fleming hosts the “Serve for the Cure” benefit that fundraises money for breast cancer research.
Winchester volleyball coach John Fleming hosts the “Serve for the Cure” benefit that fundraises money for breast cancer research.
Photo courtesy of Jean Smith.

For the Winchester girls’ volleyball squad, breast cancer is something that hits close to home.

For the past four years, Sachems coach John Fleming has organized a benefit in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, “Serve for the Cure,” that raises money for breast cancer research through the Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center.

“The whole thing started, as unfortunate as it is, is because almost every person on our team knew someone who had cancer,” said Sachems senior captain Rachael Smith.

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Since the event was established, Fleming and other local volleyball programs have helped raised more than $7,500.

“The girls and I decided that we wanted to be able to do something for the community in support of a cause clearly affecting everyone,” said Fleming. “For myself, my mother had breast cancer.”

Fleming’s Sachems host the event that features a 50-50 raffle, baked goods, donations and homemade t-shirts decorated with the phrase “Serve for the Cure” along with a breast cancer awareness symbol.

Raising money has not been enough for Fleming. Starting last year the coach organized a trip to the Breast Care Center at Winchester Hospital after the “Serve for the Cure” fundraiser to meet with patients, nurses and doctors.

“It’s nice to be able to put a face to it,” said Fleming. “It’s nice to raise money and see where it’s actually going to. It becomes more real. The girls came out of it humbled but at the same time, it’s knowing they’re doing something and helping even if it’s in a small way.”

“It’s really cool being able to see what you’re doing and giving back and raising money is one thing, but being able to give it to them and seeing what difference it makes,” said Smith, whose grandmother was diagnosed with cancer.

“It’s really emotional just knowing my grandma had it. It was really special because you get to do something that helps it and makes a difference.”

Smith said the “Serve the Cure” fundraiser attracts hundreds of fans and supporters. Fleming said he has seen the number of attendees grow since the event’s inception.

“It’s a big crowd, a state tournament game environment,” he said.

Smith and her teammates continue their outreach by hanging flyers in local stores, in the hospital and in local schools and towns. The Sachems have even started a Facebook page to spread the word.

But there’s one thing Fleming is still looking for.

“It’d be great for surrounding communities to help. Surrounding areas can go to Winchester Hospital and get great care and we want to be able to support and help,” he said.

This year’s “Serve for the Cure” is Friday, Oct. 18, vs. Woburn where both squads will swap their traditional team colors for pink. The games will begin at 5:15 pm with the varsity match set to start at 7 pm. Admission is $5 per person. All proceeds go to the Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center.

Games of the Week

Westboro at No. 1 Barnstable, Friday, 5:30 p.m. — The Rangers (14-1) are unbeaten in the Midland-Wachusett A and are led by senior outside hitter Samantha Kehoe in kills (143). Against common opponent Notre Dame of Hingham, the Rangers lost, 3-2. Barnstable hasn’t dropped a game yet at 13-0 and can look to seniors Ciara Bruning (117 kills) and Hannah Andres (136 kills) to lead the offense.

No. 2 Notre Dame of Hingham at No. 13 Canton, Thursday, 4 p.m. — Since their only loss of the season to Barnstable September 24, the Cougars have won seven straight. The Bulldogs should be wary of senior outside hitter Julia Flynn, who has loaded the stat sheet all season (hitting .450 with 157 kills to date). The Bulldogs have home court advantage (they haven’t lost there yet) and six-footer Avery Devoe, who leads the team in kills, blocks, service aces and serve receive.

No. 8 North Quincy at No. 9 Duxbury, Thursday, 4 p.m. – Unbeaten Duxbury (14-0) has been the only team to blemish North Quincy’s run (13-1) with a 3-2 win on Sept. 25. The Green Dragons have home court advantage. Red Raiders senior middle blocker, Carolyn Schwartz, who leads the squad with 91 kills, will need find a way around Duxbury’s Molly Quilty, who blocked nine North Quincy hits in their last meeting.