BATON ROUGE - LSU gymnastics head coach D-D Breaux and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bradie James spoke to the media Wednesday about the "Tailgate for the Fight" event and the Fourth Annual Etta James Memorial Meet.
The tailgate event is set for tonight from 6-9 p.m. in the Stadium Club at Tiger Stadium. The meet will begin at 7 p.m. Friday against fifth-ranked Georgia. The LSU gymnastics team and Bradie James are working together to raise money for James' Foundation 56, an organization created to raise awareness and fight against breast cancer in the Baton Rouge community.
Below are comments from Breaux and James at the media gathering.
LSU Gymnastics coach D-D Breaux
"This is our fourth annual event and it just gets bigger and better each year. The LSU athletic department has availed itself and so many people work very hard to make tonight's event and the meet on Friday a very special event. We also have a committee that works very hard to put this on in conjunction with the Bengal Belles. If I named one person I would probably leave somebody out, so let it suffice to say that we have a tremendous committee that works very hard to put this event together.
"Pink events are not a girl thing. They are about breast cancer. Breast cancer has the highest mortality rate of any cancer. And here is the flash - Louisiana has the highest mortality rate of any state. Breast cancer isn't just about women; it also attacks men. This event has raised a tremendous amount of money and it is about the underserved people. It is about early detection and breast cancer in our community, 10-parrish area and in our state. It is about the people that we love who are affected by this disease and the people who we don't know that are affected by this disease.
"The thing that makes this event so close to home is the fact that Bradie James has embraced it and made it his personal philanthropic. He puts his name, endorsement and energy and everything that he has into this event, down to the pink leotard that has the No. 56 on its sleeve. This is all about Bradie's mom, Etta, who died of breast cancer when Bradie was a sophomore here at LSU. The event tonight is a silent auction and we invite anybody who wants to come. It starts at 6:00 p.m. and is held in the Stadium Club, and it will be a fabulous event. We will have food from a tremendous amount of vendors here in Baton Rouge - restaurants that have come out and been generous enough to give us their product - to serve tonight. We have great auction items including a homemade quilt that my mother and her quilting group made. We have fishing trips and hunting and fishing equipment and also great luxury vacations. We also have LSU memorabilia and tickets to a lot of our sporting events here at LSU. It is a great fundraiser and it is a lot of fun. We even have some professional football players coming tonight who will make it even more exciting.
"The gymnastics meet is Friday at 7 p.m. in the Maravich Assembly Center. We have an extremely young team, but we are not using rebuilding as an excuse. We have had some breakout performances this year. We have had some 9.8 and 9.9 performances. We have gymnasts who are starting as freshmen and have competed in the all-around competition and have emerged as premier performers that are going to be big-time gymnasts on the national stage. We are excited about this team and they are going to do nothing but pave us through the rankings into the Top 10. Georgia is a great team who is ranked in the Top 10 and we are going to give them everything we have."
Former LSU All-American linebacker Bradie James
"This is our fourth year doing this event. I can still remember four years ago when D-D reached out to me after she saw an article in the paper that talked about my story. As a sophomore here in 2001 I lost my mother to breast cancer. I didn't know anything about breast cancer at that particular time, but since I was at our state's flagship university I decided I would read up and learn some things about the disease. I always knew I wanted to do something that would impact others that potentially would go through what I have gone through, and here we are. D-D Breaux called and asked me if I wanted to put on a gymnastics meet. I asked her if I had to put on a leotard, and luckily she said no, so I told her I was all in.
"Here we are four years later and we have raised over $100,000. We have put all that money right back into the Baton Rouge community. Just like D-D said, breast cancer does not select certain people to affect, it just suddenly comes. Not only does it affect the particular men and women who get the disease, but it also affects entire families. People that have been affected by the disease know what we are talking about.
"Everyone involved in my foundation is also passionate about something. We are passionate about making an impact in our community. I think when you go about things the right way, the passion becomes contagious. I thought we were just going to do one meet, but here we are with our fourth one. In addition, now we have a tailgate that is taking place tonight. By attending the tailgate, you help everyone in the community eradicate breast cancer which is why I am here now. I am sure my mother had no idea that her legacy would live on this long, but as a surviving son I feel I am just doing my job. We all love our mothers, and to lose her at that particular time of my life was tough.
"In regards to the Bengal Belles, you cannot just name one person. They embrace me and the cause and I am happy to be a part of this foundation. My mother was a great, God-fearing woman who taught me a lot of good things. Now that I have a son, it is my turn to raise him like I was raised by my parents.
"I encourage everyone to attend the tailgate tonight from 6-9 p.m. at the Stadium Club. I encourage everyone to wear pink to the meet Friday at 7 p.m., and bring your kids as we will have a Kids Zone outside before the meet. We are celebrated as football players, but if you want to see some athletes then you should come to a gymnastics meet. The gymnasts can do some incredible things, so I encourage everyone to come out on Friday night."