The Minnesota Vikings have won their first four games this year. At a local event in Minneapolis the day following that fourth win this week, they also won a lot of hearts including mine. A comment from their coach Mike Zimmer suggests that “heart” plays a big role for this team in their games, and from what I witnessed they show that heart off the field as well.
The event was a luncheon hosted by the Vikings to honor breast cancer survivors, and highlight the team’s efforts to bring more awareness about breast cancer and access to care to their Minnesota community. I was privileged to attend and participate along with other American Cancer Society colleagues from our Midwest Division (with a special “shout out” and thanks to my table partners Chantel SinGs and Larry Fitzgerald).
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, marked by lots of pink and many events focused on breast cancer awareness, treatment, and research. Most of us know that, and in fact we can’t avoid the pink that is everywhere, including on the field during National Football League games nationwide where these incredible athletes wear pink to honor their cause.
The American Cancer Society is honored to participate in this program, especially through the Crucial Catch campaign, which supports access to mammograms for women in need around the country. It is an incredible commitment by the teams and especially by the players to return something meaningful to their communities—and it makes a difference.
The luncheon I attended is but one example of how players, cheerleaders, and their teams step up to help. Even the mascot was there, and have to tell you that is one huge mascot!!! Players, “alumni” players, management, cheerleaders, community leaders, media stars, and others gathered to honor breast cancer survivors.
In the world we live in, it wasn’t a huge gathering but it was an important one. However, it was not unlike many similar programs held around the country every October. As an example, the American Cancer Society has its Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, which is held in many parts of the country on weekends in October. There are many such gatherings large and small that are focused on breast cancer awareness, screening, supporting those diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, and remembering those who are no longer with us.
For me, when thinking about what my message is at moments like this, it’s not about mind numbing numbers or volumes of data. It is about people caring for people. It is about giving to the community. It is about caring for our communities. It’s about making a difference, leading the way, setting examples. That’s what the Vikings offered to many of us in that room this past week.
Earlier that day I had been reading through the media coverage about the Vikings’ win the previous evening. And I came across that quote from Coach Zimmer. He made a comment to the press about his philosophy and his team. What struck me was that his comment is something that not only reflects the Vikings, but in this season of giving reflects on all of us who care:
“Our guys want to do good so someone else can do good. I always tell them, ‘Do your job so someone else can have success doing their job,’ and they’ve taken that to heart.”
I can tell you that in that moment at that luncheon the Vikings took it to heart. I can also tell you that out there throughout this nation a lot of people have taken it to heart.
October is a month of pink. For some, we celebrate. For others, we mourn. But let us never forget that by working together, we can have success in places far beyond the field of play.