Sunday, as the Buffalo Bills battle the Oakland Raiders, Emma Dockery and the Buffalo Bills Women's Association will be fighting a far more important battle: the one to save 41 million lives from succumbing to breast cancer each year.
Teaming with Kaleida Health, the Western New York Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and Zeta Tau Alpha, the Bills will coordinate their third annual Billieve – Breast Cancer Awareness Program at Sunday's home game against the Oakland Raiders.
Fans will be given a pink ribbon and informational screening card at the entrance gates of Ralph Wilson Stadium. The card provides screening information for nine Western New York counties as well as recommendations for screening and awareness.
Breast cancer survivors will also form Stampede row on the field, Buffalo Jills cheerleaders will use pink pom-poms and a special pink game ball will be given out at the game's completion.
The Bills have also designed special Billieve pink tees, hats, knit caps and mini-helmets to be sold in The Bills Store all season long. In addition, the Bills and Delaware North Companies Sportservice will donate $5.00 from the sale of every item to the WNY Komen Affiliate, which promotes helps the Cancer Services Program of New York State.
Dockery believes everyone, regardless of insurance status, should have the ability to receive breast health screening and cancer treatment services. The Komen Affiliate aids in this work by providing the service for uninsured or underinsured women. The agency has invested more than $2 million since 2001 to provide funding and support to local agencies that provide mammograms, treatment and breast cancer education.
Dockery said she is fortunate she is able to educate so many people about the disease. She feels the human bond calls all people, regardless of situation, to help in the fight.
"We have an awesome ability to see numerous people on any given Sunday," she said. "We all have opportunity to give back time and efforts and make a difference in someone else's life. People should use the resources to be able to create some good in someone else life."
She said the call to the fight lies not just with the Bills or the women who helped create the Billieve campaign but with every fan that cares about helping their fellow community members out.
Dockery said the enthusiasm and support of Bills fans and members of the community as part of the Billieve campaign has been astounding. She said the fans of Western New York have really been excited and have jumped at the chance to help other people.
"They've been very, very interested in getting involved," she said.
For Dockery, the call to action came from a very personal experience. She said after seeing her mother die from the disease, she said she knew she had to do something to ensure that others would live.
"(It was hard) just watching her suffer from that for so long," she said. "I felt like if I could commit the rest of my life to spreading the awareness of getting screened, I felt that was the best way I could keep my mother's memory alive."
Dockery said the spirit of survivors and those who have perished lives on in the single-minded goal of curing the disease.
"So that they don't die in vain," she said.