Oct. 25, 2011
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Emily O'Keefe, a sophomore from Southington, Conn. is in her first season as a pitcher for the Providence College softball team. O'Keefe spent her freshman year at Quinnipiac University studying Computer Science before transferring to Providence College to pitch and enroll in the 3+2 Engineering plan to major in Civil Engineering. Her father, Francis, is a mechanical engineer who graduated from the University of Connecticut and received his master's degree from RPI. Emily's older sister Allison, 23, was a swimmer at Siena University where she graduated with a degree in marketing.
Emily's mother, Regina, commonly referred to as "Ginny," graduated from Saint Joseph College in Hartford, Conn. and currently serves as nurse. Ginny is an eight-year breast cancer survivor.
Inspired by her mother's ongoing battle, Emily decided to pick up an old high school habit. Emily began making two different versions of bracelets a year ago to help raise money and awareness for her mother. A thin-stringed black bracelet and a woven white and pink bracelet both bare the pink ribbon symbol for breast cancer awareness. O'Keefe spends anywhere between one to two hours making one bracelet, and all of the money earned from the sales are donated to cancer research.
"We are proud of Emily and are excited to support her in any way that we can. She is driven to raise awareness for a devastating disease that is never too far from all of us," Head Coach Kerri Jacklets said. "I am certainly proud of her for sharing her story and revealing her passion to make a difference," Jacklets added.
Emily's project fits in with past initiatives that the Providence College softball team has participated in. Providence College softball has worked with the American Cancer Society for nearly 10 years in various forms. In previous seasons, the team has had cancer survivors throw out first pitches at home games and the team also has been a part of Taking Strides Against Cancer Walks, Pink Outs, and on-campus fundraisers. This year, the softball team wants to incorporate Emily's bracelets into their cancer awareness fundraising goals. The team plans on setting up a table inside of the Slavin Center throughout the season in an effort to collect donations.
"Being involved in these types of initiatives is what makes our program unique. Every year we are involved in a lot of community service projects," Assistant Coach Erica Morgenstein
said. "When something like this directly affects a member of your team it really hits home, it makes it that much more real. The coaching staff, the team, everybody wants to help in any way that they can," Morgenstein added.
Emily and her family have participated in awareness programs in the past. The O'Keefe family has been a part of Relay for Life and awareness walks such as Making Strides Against Breast Cancer for the past few years and plan on continuing to be involved in the future.