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Special Evening for Breast Cancer Survivors

The Oakland Raiders and the American Cancer Society hosted a special event for breast cancer survivors and their caregivers at Raiders headquarters in Alameda. WR Rod Streater, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, TE Brian Leonhardt and LB Sio Moore enjoyed dinner with the women and the caregivers and brought a little bit of joy to the survivors receiving a short break from their daily fight.

Interim Head Coach Tony Sparano surprised the special guests and presented them with tickets to Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers. This week is the Raiders Breast Cancer Awareness Game.

The evening was about the survivors. They were treated to an American Cancer Society program called Look Good Feel Better, which teaches women beauty techniques to use while undergoing active treatment.

But the caregivers were also provided special opportunities as the Oakland Raiders invited Margaret Stauffer, Chief Mission Officer, Cancer Support Community San Francisco Bay Area, to speak with them about how to best support their loved ones during treatment.

The Raiders hosted breast cancer survivors and their caregivers for a special night at HQ.

"I think it's really special for the women and their caregivers," said Angie Carrillo, spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. "The women here have found their cancer, are going through treatment – some of it pretty harsh – and there are women in there that are wearing scarves because they don't have any hair. So to be a Raiders fan and be brought here, it's pretty special. I think it's pretty special for them."

The highlight of the event for the survivors was the opportunity to spend time with the Raiders players. And the players were honored to be able to give a little bit of their time to these women fighting for their lives. "Tonight is a special night. It's about breast cancer awareness and I think we're here with some wonderful women who are going to be survivors if they're not already," said Jones-Drew. "They have a great attitude and to sit down and talk with them and get to know them a little bit and try to bring them a little happiness in their life when they're going through such a tough time, it means a lot to us. Hopefully we can do our best to help them."

The night was extra special for Streater whose mom is a breast cancer survivor. Watching his mother fighting the disease gave the veteran wide receiver perspective on the strength of the Raiders' guests.

"It means a lot with my mom going through breast cancer. She's a breast cancer survivor. It means a lot just to be around a bunch of people fighting for the same cause and supporting each other," said Streater. "It's been special to hang out with the breast cancer survivors. They were very excited this week to come out and hang out with us, so it was pretty cool to sit down with them and get away for a little bit and just have some fun conversations."

Jaime Jones, one of the breast cancer survivors, appreciated the opportunity to get away from the daily struggles of her disease. "Some days it can mean the world," said Jones. "You get so overwhelmed with the treatment, doctors appointments, it's nice to just feel like a normal person sometimes instead of a sick person, so to speak."


The survivors and the Raiders show their strength. Photo by Tony Gonzales

Moore was moved by the chance to spend time with the strong women and their caregivers. "Growing up with strong women, it's something impactful to be around these strong women in their fight," said Moore. "Just to see their strength sitting here having conversations and learning from them, it's an experience of a lifetime. You really gather those blessings when you see people that are this strong from every walk of life come together for the same cause. It makes a big mark in your own life to know you've got to be a fighter each and every day."

The cause has particular meaning for Coach Sparano.  "My wife lost her aunt to breast cancer, but her sister is a breast cancer survivor," Coach Sparano told the guests. "Very, very passionate about this. This is something that when I was in Miami I was very passionate about and here, when given the opportunity to get a chance to speak here, I certainly wanted to come down to say hi to everybody and welcome you here to our facility."

The Raiders guests had the opportunity to speak with the head coach and pose for photos with the players and their leader. "Having them come here and talk to the women and tell them that they appreciate them…that they want them to fight, that they hope everything comes out okay, that they're praying for their health, I think it's really special," said Carrillo. "It can be motivational to those women because they're going through a lot right now. To find out that total strangers care about them, support them, are willing to come spend an evening with them to show them that they do that, that's great."

Every October, the NFL and the Raiders work to raise breast cancer awareness, and the players have embraced the opportunity to support the cause. "I think in every way it's important for us to help out to support this great cause in any way," said Leonhardt. "It's been amazing. Just sitting down with them and how happy they were to be here, how nice everything was for them tonight…they were so excited."

"Just to see that smile, it means the world because to add that little bit to anyone's life, it makes everything worthwhile," added Moore.

The survivors and caregivers' time with the Raiders will continue Sunday at the game. Moore looks forward to playing in their honor. "I plan on going out there and playing with my heart and fight that fight with them."

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