On Tuesday, October 2, two lucky girls from On Tap Magazine were invited to attend a special event at Redskins Park, the 5th Annual All-Star Survivors Celebration. In partnership with the American Cancer Society the event was hosted by Tanya Snyder, wife of Redskins owner Dan Snyder and by Chris Cooley, former franchise leader and tight end for the Redskins. It was a day filled with benevolence. The event focused on twenty gracious women currently battling breast cancer. The women were given a day of pampering complete with makeup, wigs, gift baskets, jeans from the Gap, custom made Redskins jerseys, officially licensed footballs, pink-themed delicacies, and received tickets to this Sunday's "Think Pink" game at Fed-Ex Field. Not only is Mrs. Snyder an elegant role model but she is a dedicated spokesperson and is a breast cancer survivor herself. She and Chris sat down with On Tap to fill us in on what it means to "Think Pink."
On Tap: I read an interview you did with the New York Times back in 2009 – not long after your diagnosis. How much has changed since then?
Tanya Snyder: It was really a wake-up call. Things have changed a lot. As women we tend to forget about taking care of ourselves. I get up early to work out every day and pay attention to my health. I'm all about talking to people about early diagnosis because that's key. I focus a great deal on creating awareness, especially just asking women, "have you had your yearly mammogram?"
OT: We at On Tap are so impressed with all of your work with breast cancer awareness – from what I understand the Redskins were the first NFL team to participate in the "Think Pink" initiative. How have you seen the campaign evolve over the last several years?
TS: It's been phenomenal! There are twenty eight teams in the league participating now. It's great to see these big, tough football players sporting their pink gear. You know, if these guys can do it… then anybody can (hint, hint guys).
OT: What other events do you have planned for the month of October?
TS: The game this weekend is definitely a big event. The Redskins play the Falcons this weekend and the team will be wearing their pink gear for the "Think Pink" campaign. I'll be with Zeta Tau Alpha, players, player's wives and hundreds of volunteers as we hand out pink ribbons and hats. What's amazing is that we plan to hand out our one millionth ribbon. Our All-Star survivors from today's event will be on the field wearing their new jerseys and hats as they greet the players and fans. It really is a special occasion for these women, for the players, for everyone.
OT: For our readers at On Tap that want to contribute or help out in some way – can you tell us what they can do?
TS: Locally we have the WOW campaign which is The Women of Washington Redskins. This is the team's official female fan club created specifically with women in mind. Members can stay involved with the team through monthly events including those geared toward breast cancer awareness. Honestly, the best way to help out is to spread the word.
On Tap: Chris, you have done some extraordinary things during your football career, but what impresses us even more is your work off the field. You own the Cooley Gallery and you're a spokesperson for the BCA initiative. How did you get involved with this campaign?
Chris Cooley: Well, my mom went through a battle with breast cancer about five years ago and I watched what she went through. I shaved her head, I went to chemo, and my brother was a huge part of all of it. I really learned the difference, you know I can shave my head and it doesn't make much difference, but for her, even though we tried to make it fun, it was not fun. She was so tough through all of it. She never missed a game or anything we had and I was so proud of her, but at the same time I watched her change, watched what she had to do to fight cancer. I got together with the Redskins after that and I said I want to have an event that is just about women battling breast cancer. I wanted to be able to provide wigs because I remember my mother talking about whether or not she wanted one but they were expensive. Then makeup, hats, the gift baskets – it is just so important for these women. More than that, being able to get together with other woman and talk about it.
OT: Are you involved in anything else for the campaign this month? Are there any special events that you want to mention?
CC: Well, it's not planned yet but we do a Cooley for the Cure every year and it's to benefit the IIIB’s, the gift baskets my mom and the women received today. We do that every October. The date isn't set yet, but it will be soon.
OT: For your fans at On Tap can you comment on what your affiliation with the Redskins looks like for the future?
CC: It will be interesting to see where my career goes. I don't know if I'll play football again and a big part of that is obviously up to the Redskins – I would say yes if they asked me to play. But I also would love to maintain a relationship with the team and the organization and if there was some role that I could play on a lesser level, I would love to. I think that is a definite possibility for me. This is home for me.
OT: What do you think of this years Redskins team?
CC: I'm excited for them; everyone is very, very good. I think they have a good shot. It’s a lot of younger guys which is exciting and the team has changed drastically from the way it was built over the last ten years. It used to be ‘let's get a lot of veterans and try to win fast’, but I like the way it's gone lately. It's the most exciting team in my opinion, and I like that there are probably ten guys who are going to be Washington Redskins for a long time. There are a lot of young guys that people are really going to want to root for – you look at people around here that have to get a new jersey every year, but I don't think that is the case anymore.
Be sure to "Think Pink" for this Sunday's home game as the Redskins take on the Falcons at 1 p.m. For more information about the "Think Pink" initiative visit www.redskins.com and click on "community."
Look for the full version of this article in the upcoming November issue.