Two years ago, an idea to help raise money for a special cause began orbiting around the Mars High School Lady Planets girls volleyball team. The team wanted to raise awareness and funds to help in the fight against breast cancer.

This dream was fulfilled when, in fall 2013, the team’s booster organization launched its idea.

“Our booster organization and players created, planned and organized our first Project Pink Planet,” says Carmen Angela Botti, former president of the boosters.

Project Pink Planet is now an annual event for the volleyball team. It coincides with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, and, of course, pink is its signature color.

“Our volleyball team is a female sport, and virtually everyone knows someone who has been affected by breast cancer,” Botti says of the 22 girls who comprise the varsity and junior varsity squads.

“So it seemed like a great idea to start this fundraiser.”

Bringing Their A-Game

Project Pink Planet blasted off in 2013 in the true spirit of all things pink. The team sold T-shirts and pink-colored food items at the gym’s concession stand, and offered a 50/50 raffle for a pink sports bag jammed with pink sport items.

“We raised $911 and donated it to the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides of Greater Pittsburgh,” Botti says.

In fall 2014, the Lady Planets went even bigger with the fundraiser, hosting the Project Pink Planet game on Sept. 30, during which they played the Hampton Talbots.

The color pink blanketed the gym as the Lady Planets and the Hampton Talbots donned pink socks, shoelaces, shirts and ribbons, and the coaches dressed in pink.

In addition to parents, friends and the players, Mars High School cheerleaders, chorus, teachers and the band all played a part in the event.

“The crowd was huge,” says boosters treasurer Melanie Berteotti.

“It was rewarding because a lot of the girls know someone in their family or in a friend’s family who had cancer in the past.”

According to reports, it was the biggest game of the season, and it not only resulted in a 3-0 win for the Lady Planets, Botti says they also raised about $1,000, which they once again donated to Making Strides of Greater Pittsburgh.

‘Every Little Bit’

The Lady Planets are proud of what they and their community have accomplished.

“We want to help families that are going through cancer with loved ones,” says Cassie Berteotti, 18, a senior and the team’s outside hitter.

“Awareness can make the biggest impact. My mom’s best friend is going through it.”

Cassie also says the efforts of her team as well as the school and community demonstrate that “there’s a team for somebody going through cancer so that they’re not going through it alone.”

Hannah Both, 17, a senior and a middle blocker for the team, agrees, saying working as a team helps spread the project’s message even further.

“There’s so much more you can do with teams and parents,” Hannah says. “We can raise so much more money as a complete team. It’s a really good cause. It’s great to be part of something bigger than ourselves.”

Berteotti praises the players’ efforts and their desire to help.

“They’re helping others,” she says. “They’re going above themselves other than asking, ‘What am I going to get out of this?’”

Even though there was a lot of motivation and excitement around the project, Cassie, Hannah, and the other 20 girls on the team know that there’s still a lot of work to do.

“Our little $1,000 won’t find a cure for cancer,” Cassie says. “But every little bit helps.”