Viviana Torres stared down death in 2007. She was 23 years old. Today, she embraces life, and has recruited her co-workers to do the same.
Now when the Town of Marana Pink Sox team begins its three-month fundraising campaign each August, staff members throughout the entire Marana Municipal Complex jump on board, eager to participate in the latest fun adventures the team has created in its effort to raise awareness of breast cancer.
Torres’ own brush with breast cancer came after she had been volunteering for more than a year at the Tucson office for Susan G. Komen of Southern Arizona. The other women volunteers regularly reminded her to conduct a monthly self-examination of her breasts.
While doing her self-exam one day, Torres noticed a lump in her left breast. It felt hard and was the size of a walnut.
“I’m going to die at 23,” she thought.
Bolstered by support from her family and friends, she sought medical treatment. Her surgeon was unable to extract any liquid from the lump to conduct a biopsy. As a result, he removed the lump, which was benign, much to the young woman’s relief.
Torres, who is Marana’s deputy town clerk, acknowledges she was lucky. She could have left it at that but instead formed the Pink Sox to help raise awareness so that other women and men would be as “lucky” and beat breast cancer through prevention and early detection.
Hat same year, she recruited co-worker and friend Monica Valdenegro, Marana’s grants and housing coordinator. They came up with the team’s name after Torres, a baseball fan, found pink-and-black baseball socks.
The 2011 team includes Town Clerk Jocelyn Bronson, who is a breast cancer survivor (see her story in this special section), Shad Bustamante, Todd Hamm, T VanHook, also a breast cancer survivor, and Kelsie Wiebe.
A former Marana employee – the late Sandy Groseclose – is always close to their hearts. For more than 30 years, Groseclose had served the residents of Marana in a variety of positions, including town clerk and special events coordinator. She succumbed to breast cancer in 2008.
While the Pink Sox members change, their goal is always the same – to raise awareness of their disease in both women and men. They have raised nearly two-thirds of their $1,500 goal for the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk that will take place Oct. 30 at Kino Stadium.
To follow their progress or donate, visit http://main.acsevents.org/goto/marana.
Accepting donations online and from friends are among the few activities the Pink Sox conduct outside the municipal complex. They focus their efforts on activities that help bring Marana’s co-workers together for a great cause.
The group’s monthly luncheons give staff members the chance to interact and mingle with other departments, said Torres, and eat homemade meals for only $5.
The mobile bake sales are a hit with employees. The Pink Sox wheel the baked goods on a cart throughout the complex. The most popular item is the soft and chewy “Bronson Brownies,” made by the town clerk, who says the recipe is a family secret that cannot be divulged.
Employees also enjoy bidding in the celebrity luncheon auction, in which they can spend a lunch with a town councilmember, department head or other member of its management team. Lunches with Mayor Ed Honea are coveted, so are those with Police Chief Terry Rozema.
One of the more memorable luncheons, recalled Valdenegro, featured a plane ride with a former employee who was a pilot.
As a result of their efforts, members of the Pink Sox have raised awareness of breast cancer, but they’ve also heightened awareness of their work team.
“It’s a break from the norm, an opportunity to work with people who are not in our own departments,” Torres said. “It’s good team-building and creates a real sense of belonging. We’re doing something meaningful that impacts our community.
“We’re having a lot of fun.”