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Catonsville community shows support for cancer fight

That Mount de Sales Academy lost, 50-44, to visiting Severn School, despite a fierce second-half rally, was not the most important aspect of Friday night's battle for second place in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland's B Conference.

The Jan. 11 event also marked the school's first Pink Out event and launched a fundraising campaign for the Breast Center at St. Agnes Hospital.

An enthusiastic crowd that de Sales Athletic Director Gene Williams estimated at just under 500 left the Constance and Samuel Pistorio Sports Complex on the Catonsville campus buzzing about the school's first Pink Out.

"The kids came through," Williams said.

The campaign will continue into next month, when the students will sell flower-grams for Valentine's Day.

In addition to raising money and awareness, Friday's Pink Out, organized by de Sales senior Katie Sauter and junior Eve Lukowski, also honored Sauter's mother, Carol, who died of cancer April 6, 2012.

"It's pretty impressive," said her father, Mike Sauter, on the community's show of support and affection for Carol. "This whole idea was totally Katie's and the team's. It's a whole all-around effort from everybody."

The de Sales players wore pink socks, pink shoelaces and pink warmup T-shirts over their special uniforms that had their numbers outlined in pink.

The players contributed baked goods and also made the pink construction paper hearts that were sold for a $1 and posted on a wall of the gym with tributes to Carol Sauter and messages of encouragement.

"We've been cutting hearts out for the last few weeks," Lukowski said.

Even the visitors took part, as the Severn players bought pink shoelaces for the contest, according to Severn Coach Chuck Miller,.

"It's exciting," said Miller, who also tied his shoes with the pink laces for the occasion. "Look around. The gym is full.

"I met the little girl whose mother was the inspiration for this and it's a very good thing. It has to be wonderful thing for the kids here."

At the baked goods table where everything displayed on the pink tablecloth was for sale for a $1, Rita Williams took a break from selling construction paper hearts to talk about her friend since her high school days at Seton Keough High School.

She touched many, and not just those in the St. Mark's School community, where her children were students, Williams said.

"She was one of those once-in-a-lifetime persons," said Williams of her longtime friend. "She was one incredible woman. She gave and gave."

Near the entrance to the basketball court, representatives from St. Agnes Hospital's cancer unit offered free cupcakes with pink icing as well as brochures and information.

"She was amazing," said Jen Broaddus, an oncology social worker at the cancer center. "I keep a picture of her on my desk. It gives me a center, a grounding about courage, and strength, and grace, motherhood and partnership.

"She had a solid sense of self and mission," said Broaddus, the mother of two daughters. "I utilize her picture to show what we should all aspire to. She was one of the most selfless people I have ever known.

"All along her cancer journey, it was not about her. It was always about giving back," Broaddus said.

Broaddus said she was happy to respond to Katie Sauter's request to staff an information table Friday night.

"Anything that we can do to honor what her mother started, raising awareness and education in the community," said Broaddus, who was joined at the table by Ellen Bilenki, a nurse navigator for the breast center. "She (Carol Sauter) was so dearly loved."

Williams, whose daughter, Caroline, was one of three returning starters on the de Sales basketball team, said Sauter's involvement in Friday's event was not unusual.

"Katie is a lot like her mother, very caring," Williams said.

"She's stepped up where her mother left off," said Mike Sauter.

Sauter, 17, the oldest girl in a family that includes Eric, 23, Megan, 16 and Danny, 15, said her mother had been sick for as long as she could remember.

A member of the varsity basketball and lacrosse teams, she said games and practices often meant she wasn't home as much as she felt she should have been.

"But my dad stepped up, my sister stepped up. We all had to, my mom was a super mom," she said.

She looked at the pink baked goods table and pink hospital cancer center's information table while her teammates milled around in their pink T-shirts and fans, many in pink, streamed into the building.

"This stuff," she said, "if she hadn't been sick, she would have set this up for someone else."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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