For Laura Lassman, her foray into fundraising began with a simple goal. After her friend Sheila was diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided to pay tribute to her favorite sport by hosting a golf tournament in her honor with the proceeds benefiting breast cancer research. What began as a lofty fundraising goal of $20,000 soon skyrocketed to $130,000.
“The level of support took us by total surprise,” Lassman says, remembering the first tournament held at the Alpine Country Club in New Jersey in 1990.
Nearly three decades later, Lassman and the organization she started – Play for P.I.N.K. – has donated more than $48 million to BCRF. Today, 30,000 people each year participate in sporting events held across the country, ranging from golf and tennis tournaments at private country clubs to volleyball and football games. No donation is too small, with young children and teens organizing fundraisers to benefit Play for P.I.N.K.
“It’s incredible to receive donations from kids handing us jars of money they raised from lemonade stands,” Lassman says.
A grassroots organization at heart, Lassman had plenty of help along the way. In the early days her son, Nicholas, was often seen by her side.
“He admired the strength of everyone impacted by breast cancer,” she said.
A gifted athlete with a penchant for golf, his passion for the sport intensified as Nicholas grew older. After graduating from college, he spent a year training to go pro before pursuing a career in finance in New York City. Sadly, he lost his life in the attacks on September 11, 2001. He was 28 years old.
“He lived a short but meaningful life,” Lassman says. “He was a soft-spoken man of great integrity. He always made others feel good about themselves.”
The indelible mark Nicholas left on his family and friends extends to the Play for P.I.N.K. and BCRF communities. That’s why, in 2015, BCRF created the The Play for P.I.N.K. Award in honor of Laura Lassman and in memory of Nicholas Lassman.
Dr. Tan A. Ince from the University of Miami is the current award recipient. A BCRF and Play for P.I.N.K. investigator for over 15 years, his work focuses on identifying environmental influences on breast cancer.
“It is so moving to have Nicholas’ name associated with Dr. Ince’s work,” Lassman said. “Nicholas would be honored too, knowing he is part of finding a cure.”
Sixteen years after Nicholas’ death, Lassman credits the strength she found with the Play for P.I.N.K. family in her grieving process.
“I immersed myself with Play for P.I.N.K.,” she said. “It was hard, but you move forward. Nicholas would have never wanted me to back away from this important cause.”
To learn more about Play for P.I.N.K. and how to get involved click here.