A record-setting Big Pink turnout is good news in the fight against breast cancer.The Western Illinois University community bumped, jumped and spiked this past week at the 10th annual Big Pink Volleyball tournament.

More than 200 teams gathered at the Donald S. Spencer Student Recreation Center with pink everywhere in sight, showing support for breast cancer awareness.

As if getting to play with a huge pink volleyball was not attractive enough, the money raised was donated to the Peoria Memorial affiliate Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization, as well as the McDonough District Hospital's Mammogram Assistance program and other cancer screening programs.

"I love to play volleyball. I even played on two teams this year," said Chelsey O'Bryan, junior law enforcement and justice administration major.

"Getting to play with a chance to raise money that's going somewhere to help people is great."

From 4 to 10 p.m. last Monday through Thursday, teams were ready and anxious to challenge each other and become champions.

This was the second year in which teams were separated into different brackets: resident halls, club organizations, Greek, faculty/staff and independent teams.

"Whether you were on a team with your floor, staff, sorority, etc., it really gave a lot of people a good bonding experience. Not to mention a chance to get to play on more teams and bring in people that don't normally come to the rec," said Molly McKeogh, graduate assistant for special events.

Last year, Western hit a Big Pink record with 191 teams, and also raised at least $13,313. This year, 26 more teams signed up, and the record-breaking 217 teams raised well over the $13,000 mark

"We raised at least over $15,000 with teams, raffles, and t-shirts. It's great to see the money that is put forth into this tournament, get to be so useful and is really beneficial to the community," McKeogh said.

Last Thursday at 5 p.m., a check presentation was held which was attended by University President Al Goldfarb.

This year, the overall winner of Big Pink was Sigma Chi, which also won the bracket for Greek organizations.

The other bracket winners were: RSPS Girls for faculty/staff, Team Fricke for residence hall, the Vets Club for club organization, and team Thunder Dome for independent team.

Each year, Big Pink is based around a theme. This year's theme was "On the Road Again (Around the World)." Teams were encouraged to dress in what they would wear when "on the road."

Many wore Hawaiian gear, yet the most unique costume, and winner of this year's contest, was the ROTC team, which wore camouflage sashes.

"It (Big Pink Volleyball) appeals to so many people, whether they are affected by it or just love the game," said John Seely, senior special education major, and the chair of the Big Pink committee. "I'd really like to say thank you to everyone; we couldn't have done it without Western's help. It's been amazing to see how it's grown from just 150 teams to bigger than before. And hopefully next year it will be even bigger.

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