Longhorn Powerlifting’s Bench for Breasts fundraiser raises breast cancer awareness

Sofia Treviño, Life and Arts Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the October 19 flipbook.

On a Wednesday afternoon, grunts from bench pressing and cheers of support filled the air on Speedway — except the lifters weren’t showcasing their strength. Instead, students displayed their support toward breast cancer awareness by benching to bring attention to their donation drive.

Throughout the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Longhorn Powerlifting will host their Bench for Breasts fundraiser on Speedway every Wednesday from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The fundraiser aims to raise money for their nationals competition and for Austin’s Breast Cancer Resource Center, while also encouraging the UT community to show up, donate and bench in support of breast cancer awareness.

After the first time the powerlifting organization hosted the fundraiser on Oct. 13, co-president Bella Vargas said she looks forward to helping the Breast Cancer Resource Center. Vargas, who organized the event, said she finds it rewarding to hear donors share their experiences with family members who struggled with breast cancer and express their gratitude for the awareness event.

“Reading their mission, seeing women who survived or fighting come together was beautiful,” Vargas said. “They meet at this place and help each other, so I wanted to help them, and they also wanted to help us.”

As someone whose family member had breast cancer, undeclared freshman Alexa Cavazos said she gratefully signed up to table at the event. She said hearing about people donating and sharing their experiences helped her find a community to relate to. 

“Even though my grandma survived (cancer), it makes me glad that I can help other people, even (if it’s just) through emotional support,” Cavazos said. “I was very proud that we got to do this fundraiser.”

Though not everyone knows people who struggle with breast cancer or even struggle with it themselves, Cavazos said raising awareness still adds to a support system of people who care.

“(Not everyone) goes through this, but you should be aware of it because you may have a mom, grandma, sister, girlfriend that does,” Cavazos said. “It’s a horrible thing to go through.”

Celina Maggi, assistant director of development and special events at the resource center, said the community center provides help not only to those with breast cancer, but also those working through a family member’s fight with cancer.

“I have family members who were affected by breast cancer and cancer in general,” Maggi said. “I found it really difficult and overwhelming to navigate, so being able to be a resource and to support patient navigators, who really make it happen, was really exciting for me. I was really happy to affect change because it’s something that’s personal to me.”

Though every October brings more attention to the resource center, Maggi stressed that they operate as a nonprofit and their services rely on the support of people who care about sharing resources.

“Breast Cancer Awareness doesn’t end in October,” Maggi said. “It’s something that we need to think about all year long. When someone gets diagnosed with breast cancer, they’re extremely overwhelmed, and they feel really lost. We’re there to help them navigate that process. The more people know about us, the more those affected by breast cancer feel supported.”