Passionate To Find A Cure

Michele Grenier at 2013 Pink the Rink

Senior rower has spent the last four years raising breast cancer awareness around campus.

By Andrea Wiegman
Special to

Passionate, energetic and diligent are three of the many descriptors that can be used to characterize senior Michele Grenier (Menands, N.Y.).  If she isn't rowing at crew practice on Lake Quinsigamond she can be seen running around Hogan and other various locations to assure that everything for the organization, Holy Cross for a Cure, is going smoothly.

Holy Cross for a Cure was established just four years ago when Grenier was a freshman. It started out as a small organization of approximately 20 students, but the club has been rapidly gaining recognition and popularity with a membership total that now exceeds 100 students. The organization is best known for their creative and witty t-shirts that are sold every fall to raise money for Pink Revolution in Worcester. Additionally, several other clubs and athletic teams have begun co-coordinating with Holy Cross for a Cure to produce "pink events." One of the most popular athletic events is Pink the Rink, hosted by the hockey team each February. The team wears pink laces and auctions off pink jerseys worn by the players during the game to raise money for the cause.

Grenier's initial involvement in Holy Cross for a Cure was as an underclassmen intern where she was required to work closely with the senior co-chairs. When the position of co-chair opened up her sophomore year, Grenier was naturally a perfect fit for the role and has made the club a huge part of her experience at Holy Cross ever since. Grenier began her work with breast cancer awareness in high school by getting her fellow classmates involved in an annual fundraiser for the cause every fall that included a mile walk and a day in the park along with selling bracelets to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Breast cancer awareness is a cause that Grenier chose to dedicate her time to after seeing a close family friend battle the disease. "Her strength inspired me to want to help other survivors," reflects Grenier. "Once I started, I could not help but bring my passion for the cause with me to college." Passion is exactly what Grenier has contributed to the organization over the past few years, with relentless effort and innovation poured into every project and event she has taken on. 

The hard work and planning of Grenier and several other members of Holy Cross for a Cure kicks off in October. For the entire month the club sells the catchy t-shirts they have designed and created. In the past, these shirts have featured creative slogans such as "save second base", "passionately pink" and "keep calm and fight on." Much of what HC for a Cure does goes to benefit local organizations. The club participates in local walks for cancer and hosts on campus events such as Pink Day, a Pink Mass and even a Pink Pub with all proceeds going to Pink Revolution. Pink Revolution and HC for a Cure first teamed up in 2010 when Ann Zelesky, faculty advisor to HC for a Cure and Associate Athletic Director at Holy Cross, brought the organization to the attention of Grenier and the other co-chair. Pink Revolution is a Worcester-based breast cancer alliance of individuals who are committed to bringing positive changes to those touched by breast cancer. "I really appreciated that Pink Revolution was a local organization," commented Grenier. "It made our contributions feel more personalized and closer to home." In the spring, the club wraps up the school year by hosting an educational panel. Survivors, doctors and members of Pink Revolution come to Holy Cross and speak to students about the perils of breast cancer, prevention and early detection among other things.

One of HC for a Cure's biggest events takes place in December, right before Christmas break. The club works with SAAC, the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, to bring Benching for Breast Cancer to all Holy Cross students and faculty, not just athletes. "Bench Your Max, Save Some Racks!" was the slogan for the event this year. This past year the best costume award went to members of the men's rowing team who dressed up as KISS. "A big thank you," says Grenier. "To the boys who arrived to Benching for Breast cancer dressed to the nines as KISS." Grenier acknowledges that both her men and women crew teammates have been huge supporters of HC for a Cure over the years. The Most Enthusiastic Award at Benching for Breast Cancer went to the women's softball team. In 2012 Benching for Breast Cancer raised over $2,000 and had a little over 500 students participate, which set a record for the event that began five years ago. Grenier thanks and credits much of the success of the event to several people in the Athletic Department including Zelesky, head strength and conditioning coach Jeff Oliver, manager of events and promotions Jessica Liebner and assistant strength and conditioning coach Brittany Keil. Food was donated from several local eateries such as Tee's Deli, Jay's Twisted Fork, Palace Pizza and SWEET! which helped make the event a success.

As if being a member of the women's rowing team and co-chair for one of the quickest growing clubs on campus wasn't enough, Grenier also volunteers as a senior interviewer for the admissions office, works as a tutor in the writer's workshop and is an assistant to the softball office. To top it off Grenier spends eight hours a week interning with Ball and Sargent PC- a law firm in Worcester.

When asked how she finds time to balance all of these extra-curricular activities on top of a vigorous academic career, she attributes it to her endless to-do lists. "Good question," says Grenier, "if you ask my housemates, they might tell you I do so by constantly living on the go." She insists that organization and being able to prioritize are essential to her success. Grenier affirms that schoolwork must always come first and is thankful for the flexibility her rowing coach Patrick Diggins allows along with the great work that the entire Executive Board of HC for a Cure contributes. "I am not a coffee drinker," shares Grenier, "which always seems to surprise people, so I try to get enough sleep each night."

Being a second semester senior, there is always the lingering question of post-grad plans. "Where I will be next fall is a great question that my parents would love to know the answer to as well," jokes Grenier. The senior English major plans on applying to law school in the fall of 2014 and would like to someday practice in the field of Family or Probate law. Her ultimate goal is to help women, children and families. "Of course," Grenier quickly adds, "I hope to continue working for the cause of Breast Cancer Awareness!"