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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2015:01:07 23:17:56

From left: Valley View principal Larry Pegula, DiGregorio; district superintendent Don Kanavy, principal Chris Mendicino and athletic director Chris Killiany.

Valley View School District will hold its annual “Coaches vs. Cancer” game on Thursday, Jan. 29, in the high school gymnasium, 1 Columbus Drive in Archbald, starting at 6:30 p.m.

In addition to the game, there will be basket raffles, T-shirt sales, memory card sales and a survivor celebration. T-shirts will be available for $10 and memory or honor cards will sell for $1 each. Raffle tickets can be purchased the day of the game and baskets will be displayed in the lobby on the day of the game.

The chairperson and host of this year’s game is Valley View High School senior and cancer survivor, Natalie DiGregorio.

“It’s hard to put into words just what this means, because I have lived with the effects of cancer my entire life,” she said.

According to DiGregorio, there will be a ceremony in between the junior varsity and varsity basketball games, “where various speakers reflect their thoughts on how cancer has touched their lives and those around us. Finally, all cancer survivors are invited to take a lap around the gym honoring their battles.”

That will be a special moment for her.

“It probably means more to me for other people that have cancer or who are survivors because I can be a source of some hope and inspiration,” she said. “Knowing I can make someone feel better by just sharing my experience means the world to me.”

Of course, the cause is a special one for her.

“The disease affected me both physically and emotionally,” she said. “The physical scars still remain in many ways, from a semi-paralyzed foot, to having to catheterize daily. Also, I have limited use of my kidneys as a result of the disease.

“Emotionally, the thought of cancer coming back is always on my and my parents’ mind, even though we know I have been cancer-free now for many years.”

She added: “There are many more physical and emotional hurdles I deal with, but I would need to write a short book to explain them all.”

Helping her through is the fact that she has had to focus on all the preparations.

With all the work that goes into an event like this, it goes by so quick that I hardly feel like this is work.”

Among the duties: “We send out a letter district-wide to inform everyone about the event,” she explained. “Additionally, we decorate the school with memory cards and ‘in honor’ cards for those who have passed and those who have survived the battle. In the corridors of the school, we have memory boards for friends and relatives who have died from cancer.”

Many of the attendees will be there just to enjoy the game, but DiGregorio hopes that she will hele create “awareness that the fight is ongoing, and there are many more successes today than years ago. They should know that events like this that raise money for research are helping find the cures for cancer. We are getting closer and closer every day to a cure and people should be excited that cancer is not always a death sentence as it once was.”