Coach Ken Eriksen and the USF softball team, alongside other USF Athletics personnel, will participate in Saturday’s Miles for Moffitt event at Amalie Arena in support of sophomore softball player Alexis Buchman, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.
All 32 members of the softball team will be in attendance to walk with Buchman through the 5k to raise money for cancer research, according to redshirt sophomore outfielder Meghan Sheehan. The event is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m.
“We’re going to get up and we’re going to meet her and her family,” Sheehan said. “We’re all going to park together and walk to begin the race. We’ll race together, we’ll be with [Buchman], we’ll do some of the events that they have there.
“They make it fun, there’s all kinds of events and there’s music and food, so we’ll go around with her and participate in the events of the day. We’ll all get together later that day also.”
Buchman had undergone surgery for a brain tumor Sept. 16 after initially feeling numbness and tingling sensations in her left arm in July. She finished her first round of chemotherapy Wednesday.
“She just finished her first round of chemo and radiation, so now she gets a four-week break from it which she’s excited for,” redshirt sophomore infielder Carmine Lane said. “Not having to wake up at 6 a.m. and having to go get treatment.”
Sheehan also said Buchman attends as many practices as she can, and Lane explained how she stays connected to the game by sitting in the booth during softball’s fall games and keeping track of statistics.
Aside from Miles for Moffitt, the athletics department and USF’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) have started several initiatives to raise awareness for Buchman and cancer research.
As part of the effort, gray wristbands have been distributed to athletes and coaches as gray is the color for brain cancer awareness. The softball team also plans on paying homage to Buchman throughout its upcoming season with a special logo on the players’ equipment.
Eriksen credits the members of his team for making some of the initiatives happen, as they were the ones that got in touch with administration to get the ball rolling.
“I’m actually a bystander in this whole situation [setting everything up], our team [has been] so proactive right from the get-go on what they want to do,” Eriksen said. “We had a couple young women on our team get together with administration and say ‘Look, this is how we want to honor Alexis in her fight right now and this is what we want to do.’
“The department’s wearing bracelets, our athletic director has gone and given the OK, we’re going to wear some gray-colored things because that’s the significance of what she’s battling. We’ve got our gray batting practice jackets, we’ve got our gray bracelets, we’ve got gray uniforms, we’re in this 100%. She’s got great support behind her.”
A GoFundMe was created Sept. 2 for the Buchman family with the goal of raising $15,000, but it has since received 373 donations for a current total of $20,860. Miles for Moffitt has raised $7 million for cancer research since it first began in 2006, and donations on behalf of Buchman’s campaign are being taken on the company’s website.