The Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation announced Monday that Coventry resident and breast cancer survivor Leah Hooks will be the honorary coach for Providence College Women’s Basketball on Tuesday evening.
“I am far from a basketball player,” said Hooks, amused at the irony of her appointment. “I tried out for the women’s team at Bryant University, but realized it was not for me after all the running.”
Hooks, however, is excited about the distinguished role as honorary coach because of her love of the game. Though she did not hit the hardwood as a member of Bryant University, she served as a statistician for the school’s basketball games, making her the first woman at the school to hold that position.
Hooks, an accountant for The Westerly Hospital and mother of two, considers herself to be a “pioneer survivor” of the Pawtucket-based Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation.
“I reached out to the Gloria Gemma Foundation back in 2007 because some of the women who served in my breast cancer support group in Coventry were involved with them,” said Hooks. “Now, the Foundation is like family to me.”
Hooks was a contributing author to “Journey from Despair to Hope,” a book that chronicles the stories of seven women who met through the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. Published in 2010, the book has been distributed to newly-diagnosed breast cancer patients at hospitals throughout the state of Rhode Island.
“Early detection is key,” said Hooks, who was diagnosed in July 2006 at age 51. “Since I was 30 years-old, I received regular mammograms and was fortunate to have my breast cancer detected at an early stage.”
Hooks, who has volunteered for the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, is actively involved in the community, serving as a volunteer usher at Providence Performing Arts Center and offering her time at the Coventry Health Center.
This year, four Providence College Friars Teams—Men’s Ice Hockey, Women’s Ice Hockey, Men’s Basketball, and Women’s Basketball—have hosted “Pink Out” games to benefit the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation.
“We’re thrilled to be joining Providence College for these four games,” said Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation Executive Director Maria Gemma. “Raising breast cancer awareness is a crucial part of our mission and we welcome the opportunity to have a presence at events like these.”
Gemma added, “We’re deeply appreciative of our ongoing collaboration with P.C. and look forward to seeing the Friars in action Tuesday night.”
Fans are encouraged to wear pink, the internationally recognized color of breast cancer awareness, to Alumni Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. as Women’s Basketball faces Marquette. Tickets are available at www.friars.com. Donations collected at the door will support the Foundation’s mission: to raise breast cancer awareness, increase breast health education, enhance the quality of life for breast cancer patients, as well as their families and friends, and generatefunding for local breast health programs.