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Buffalo Bills "BILLIEVE" raises Breast Cancer Awareness

Buffalo Bills ladies.JPG
WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The Buffalo Bills organization is gearing up for a large event Friday night in downtown Niagara Falls.  The Bills "Billieve" Breast Cancer Awareness Event will help raise funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer.  

WBFO'S Eileen Buckley sat down with organizers of the event -- including two Buffalo Bills wives and a breast cancer survivor.

"I had a mastectomy.  I had chemotherapy. I had radiation.  I had the whole nine yards," said  Susan Morreale. 

Five years ago Morreale experience what many women fear -- the discovery of a lump in her breast.

Morreale considers herself as a healthy person.  She is a registered nurse and a Elmwood Avenue shop owner.   She says there was no history of breast cancer in her family.

"I think it is super, super important for women to listen to their body.  If they are not feeling right, they need to listen to their own inside...and really, really take care of themselves," said Morreale.

But today, Morreale is healthy and a survivor.  It is stories like Susan's that are duplicated over and over across the region and, unfortunately, other family members are now dealing with a similar cancer experience.

"I have two family members right now that are battling breast cancer.  I think it is so important for our community to jump on board and support this," said Morreale.

"Like Sue said, she is a perfect example.  If you could see her and not just hear her voice, she is beautiful inside and out and she is a true inspiration to all of us that this is the face of breast cancer, and it is a beautiful one," said Kelli Cravey with the American Cancer Society, which is teaming with the Bills for Friday night's Billieve event. 

The Cancer Cociety has already raised over $650,000 this year alone for fight against breast cancer.   Those funds will stay in this region to help local women. 1,300 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer next year in Western New York.  

But Cravey said they are making strikes  both in prevention and treatments of breast cancer.

"The survival rates have gone up by 35% which is amazing.  We are seeing now, a lot of breast cancer incidents with women are really bumps in the road.  Those  speed bumps in life that as long as you stay on top of it, practices prevention, early detection," noted Carvey. 

National recording artist Belinda Carlisle will headline a free outdoor concert for the Billieve event. Other celebrities will include members of the Buffalo Bills like Garrison Sanborn. 

"Bills players have really taken hold of this Breast Cancer Awareness month. They've attended all of the events...to help support such an important cause," said his wife Tara Sanborn.

Sanborn said the players have truly embraced the cause and even are willing to wear pink, the symbol of breast cancer awareness. 

"It's fantastic to see that there's no shame in their pink. There's no shame in their game of wearing the pink to support breast cancer awareness. It is more predominate in women, but it doesn't mean it escapes men and I think it is important that they realize that as well.  The NFL has really taken hold in participating in it," said Sanborn.

Garrison Sanborn's teammate Kraig Urbik will also be on hand for Billieve. His wife Emily says like so many, cancer has touched their lives.

"Everyone is connected to cancer, but my grandparents have passed away from cancer.  For Kraig to be involved I think," said Urbik.

Before the free concert at 5 p.m. at the Rainbow Bridge, a living pink ribbon will be formed that will stretch to over to the Canadian border.  The Buffalo Bills will then be flipping a switch to light Niagara Falls pink.