“They’re in a little bit of a dark place and they’re trying to figure out where is the light? Is there light? So this has brought a little bit of light to them,” said Shelly. Arianne De’Angelo and her mother Shelly LoGerfo are giving back to the community with a Facebook group called “Adopt a Senior,” which unites high school seniors with sponsors who can provide an act of kindness. “Like” Nicole Menner on Facebook and “Follow” her on Twitter. The group was created over the weekend, and already has over 1,400 members. Shelly said “we wanted to make an unforgettable moment they were supposed to have, even more unforgettable, and it blew up,” with Arianne adding the highlight of the group has been seeing it rapidly grow. SHERBURNE (WBNG) — While local seniors deal with the news they won’t be able to return to school to finish out their high school careers, one mother-daughter duo came up with a way to spread some cheer. Arianne said every senior on the page has been adopted at least once, and there has been a ton of positive reaction from parents and seniors in the community. The adoption process is simple. A parent or senior posts their bio in the group, and a sponsor can choose to “adopt” any given senior. The sponsor will then message the senior, and send a gift or sentiment to brighten their day.
Her battle with cancer inspired the Syracuse community and made a national impact. After Syracuse’s game against Oregon on Nov. 24, reigning Wooden Award winner Sabrina Ionescu stopped Mangakahia before the game and asked for a photo. Ducks head coach Kelly Graves called Mangakahia the “biggest star in the gym” that day, and the whole team took a picture with her. “We support her, we love her, and I know she inspires us,” Graves said after that game.Sunday’s scene in the Dome — one of omnipresent pink — was the first thing Mangakahia saw after leaving the locker room. Eight chemotherapy treatments, a double mastectomy and countless trips to the hospital with her teammates prefaced the Play4Kay game — named after the late hall of fame coach Sandra Kay Yow — which raises awareness for breast cancer.Otto’s Army representatives handed out free pink T-shirts with the foundation’s name printed on the back. Pitt donned pink alternate jerseys, and fans were encouraged to wear pink gear. Both teams warmed up in black and pink jerseys with the “Power of One” logo and a pink breast cancer ribbon, and Syracuse players also showed off their #Tough4T shirts before tipoff.During a timeout halfway through the first quarter, a video played on the Carrier Dome big screens. One after another, SU players flashed in front of the camera and lauded the courage and strength of those affected by breast cancer.“Stay strong, stay positive, keep the hope. We’re here for you,” graduate transfer Whisper Fisher said in the video. “Take it day by day,” Lauren Fitzmaurice said. “You are stronger than you might feel right now,” Amaya Finklea-Guity echoed.At halftime, another video package appeared on the screen, this time with more personalized messages from Mangakahia’s teammates offering their unwavering support. Then, Mangakahia and 14 other cancer survivors in the community lined up at half-court. The crowd stood as a public address announcer told the stories of the survivors.“That was a big moment, I know, for her,” Lewis said. Forward Emily Engstler, one of Mangakahia’s closest friends, said Sunday’s tributes were “powerful” and should help Mangakahia regain the confidence she had “before the battle.” Mangakahia said in a video that one of the biggest challenges for her was losing her once-long and blonde hair, which has begun to grow back in.Throughout the season, Mangakahia has sat on the bench during games and watched practices when she’s not undergoing treatment. Graduate transfer Elemy Colomé called her a “player-coach” and said she brings a fresh perspective to the SU sideline. In November, Hillsman said he once had to yell at Mangakahia for talking too much during practice. “She doesn’t get a pass,” he said on Nov. 5.Two days later, the team announced Mangakahia was officially cancer-free. According to cancer.org, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their life. Mangakahia and long-time SU fan Victoria Hill-Gilbert are part of that statistic.When the final buzzer sounded Sunday, Mangakahia walked back to the locker room after the handshake line but stopped by Hill-Gilbert’s front-row seat. She signed the Syracuse native’s game program featuring Mangakahia without hair in an orange Syracuse jersey.Danny Emerman | Sports EditorIt meant a lot to Hill-Gilbert, especially since she has stage 4 breast cancer. Mangakahia smiled after signing. The Syracuse all-time assist leader hopes to play next year pending an NCAA waiver for another year of eligibility, but until then, her impact will transcend any game.“I think it’s very important that we have people, women, who stand up and say breast cancer is still an issue,” Hill-Gilbert said.“It’s been very inspirational.” Comments Twenty seconds before the end of warmups, Tiana Mangakahia emerged alone from the locker room tunnel. Smiling and shaking her head in awe, she high-fived fans wearing pink t-shirts, headbands and sweaters before taking her seat on the bench.Every game, home or away, Mangakahia is adoringly welcomed by fans, opposing coaches and players. It’s become routine for her. The 2019 All-American’s battle with breast cancer has captured the attention of the sport. And on Sunday, for the first time since her breast cancer diagnosis in June, the 24-year-old addressed the Carrier Dome crowd.“Syracuse is my second home now,” Mangakahia said at halftime near midcourt. “I probably wouldn’t have been able to make it through without everyone’s support, especially from my teammates, coaches, athletic department. Just thank you so much.”In Syracuse’s annual Play4Kay/Pink Game, the Orange (14-11, 8-6 Atlantic Coast) honored Mangakahia’s battle with breast cancer with video tributes and a halftime ceremony. “The day was special,” head coach Quentin Hillsman said. A 71-53 blowout win against last-place Pittsburgh (4-21, 1-13) served as background noise for the true main event: Mangakahia, who’s been cancer-free since November.“Everyone probably has someone that they know in their family that has been touched by cancer,” Hillsman, wearing a pink dress shirt and pink paisley bowtie, said. “It’s different when it’s someone that plays for you. When it’s one of your kids, it’s like it’s one of your daughters.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textElizabeth Billman | Asst. Photo EditorThe game itself was never in question. The Orange led by double digits for almost the entire contest. They’ve adjusted this year without their superstar point guard, as redshirt junior Kiara Lewis (19 points, six assists, six rebounds) has taken on lead-guard responsibilities. With two top-10 wins and now a four-game winning streak, an eighth-straight NCAA tournament appearance is within reach.Yet Mangakahia’s battle has always been bigger than basketball, than tournament aspirations, than wins and losses. She announced her decision to return to Syracuse for her senior season — her final year of eligibility — in April because she wanted to improve her draft stock. Two months later, she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, or invasive ductal carcinoma. Published on February 16, 2020 at 11:27 pm Contact Danny: [email protected] | @DannyEmerman Facebook Twitter Google+