Aggies wearing pink ribbons, socks for breast cancer awareness

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- When coach Hal Mumme asked his New
Mexico State players if they'd mind adding some pink to the
school's traditional colors of crimson and white, he explained it
would be for a good cause.

The Aggies didn't hesitate.

They'll be wearing pink ribbons on their helmets and pink socks
for Saturday's game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in an effort to
promote breast cancer awareness and raise money for research
projects in New Mexico.

"We are going to wear the pink socks and a few of us have pink
towels we are getting ready,'' receiver Chris Williams said. "We
are just going to have fun with it.''

The cause is close to Mumme's heart. His wife, June, was
diagnosed with breast cancer in late 1996.

As a survivor of the disease, June Mumme endured a lumpectomy, a
mastectomy and months of chemotherapy. Since then, she has been
active in breast cancer awareness efforts during Mumme's coaching
stops at Kentucky, Southeastern Louisiana and now New Mexico State.

"It's a tremendous cause for anyone to have to go through it --
any men who have had a wife, daughter, sister, grandmother, mother,
aunt, anyone,'' coach Mumme said. "It's terrible for the women,
but it's bad for the men as well.

"If we can eradicate this disease, we need to do it,'' he

With all the publicity surrounding the fundraising effort, the
game between the Aggies (2-2) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-3) is
something of an afterthought.

The Golden Lions, members of the Football Championship
Subdivision formerly known as Division I-AA, are coming off a 58-3
loss to Southern Illinois.

The Aggies, meanwhile, lost 55-20 at Auburn last weekend but are
expected to rebound. New Mexico State is 35-29-1 against I-AA
schools, including a 35-14 win over Southeastern Louisiana in this
year's opener.

The fundraising push is called "NMSU Aggies are Tough Enough to
Wear Pink.''

Besides the ribbons and socks worn by New Mexico State players,
all the coaches will wear pink shirts. The field will be painted
with two 28-foot-by-16-foot pink ribbons and fans have been
encouraged to wear pink to the stadium.

"We are tough enough to wear pink,'' Williams said. "It's a
very serious disease and anything we can do to help find a cure is
a plus.''

It's reminiscent of efforts by Major League Baseball in recent
years, where sluggers have used pink bats for games on Mother's Day
to promote breast cancer awareness.

In less than three months, June Mumme said organizers raised
more than $140,000, with another $50,000 of in-kind contributions
such as food and supplies. All the money raised will go toward
cancer research in New Mexico.

She said she's been overwhelmed by the response.

"Shocked. We did not solicit a first sponsor until July 3,''
she said.

June Mumme is one of four honorary chairwomen for the event --
each a breast cancer survivor. The others are Magellia Boston, wife
of New Mexico State athletics director McKinley Boston; Laura
Conniff, the university's Board of Regents chairwoman; and Pat
Sisbarro, vice president of a Las Cruces automobile dealership.

June Mumme urged women to follow cancer screening guidelines and
take necessary precautions.

"I am totally convinced that the initiatives will save lives,''
she said.