Daphne – Pursuing Her Passion
Pursuing Her Passion
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Daphne is taking up the fight to eradicate breast cancer through her work with Susan G. Komen Dallas County.
By Kristi Scales
The pink stars proudly worn by Daphne on gameday during the NFL’s Crucial Catch campaign are more than a splash of color on her iconic Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders uniform. For the three-year DCC veteran from Newport Beach, Calif., pink stars symbolize something very personal, not only during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but 365 days a year.
Daphne’s mom, Alissa, is a breast cancer survivor. As immediate family members, Daphne and her father, Dave, and two younger brothers, Elijah and Josiah, are known as “co-survivors.”
Knowing firsthand the scourge of the disease and unwilling to stand idly by, Daphne has taken up the fight to eradicate breast cancer by working for Susan G. Komen Dallas County. The organization ensures access to essential breast health services and education programs, and supports research to prevent and cure breast cancer.
The Cowboys have a long history of partnering with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The organization’s founder, Nancy Brinker, has served as an honorary game captain numerous times over the years. The special Crucial Catch halftime performances have featured breast cancer survivors and co-survivors taking the field with former DCC to form the nationally recognized pink ribbon, surrounded by ribbons supporting other cancer awareness causes.
For Daphne, her support of Komen began long before she donned her DCC pink star.
“Twelve years ago, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Daphne says of their journey. “Since then, my family has been involved with Race for the Cure every year in Orange County, Calif. The annual event is now a family tradition.
“After college, when I moved to Dallas to join the DCC, I did Race for the Cure here locally. During my rookie year with DCC’s My Cause, My Boots, I chose the color pink in honor of my mom. The first time I wore the pink star as a rookie, my mom was in the stands as a survivor. It was so special. It brings tears to my eyes because I’m so lucky to have a family that is healthy.”
Through My Cause, My Boots, Daphne donated a boot with a pink star to Susan G. Komen Dallas County to help them raise money through one of their silent auctions. That was in 2018. This past year, however, she found herself in a job that she didn’t really enjoy. She wanted to do something she was truly passionate about.
“My mom and I are so close and breast cancer affects so many people. Even if it doesn’t directly affect your family, everyone in this country knows someone directly affected,” Daphne says. “So, I reached out to Susan G. Komen Dallas County in hopes of getting more involved. They told me about an open position as a fund development intern to work alongside Robin Hansen, our fund development director. It was a great opportunity to learn from Robin. It’s been amazing.
“Over the past nine months, we’ve worked on campaigns to bring money and resources into the fight to eradicate breast cancer. That’s our main mission. I worked on the Promise Breakfast as well as the BigWigs campaign. The internship was supposed to end in June when Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Training Camp was set to begin, but the pandemic forced postponement of our Promise Breakfast. We held it virtually a couple of weeks ago and our partners helped raise money for research and mammograms to help serve the underinsured members of our Dallas community.”
Not surprisingly, the coronavirus has made fundraising and event planning very challenging during the pandemic, so Komen Dallas County had to shift its focus, doing as much as they could virtually and through silent auctions. Even though technology played a bigger part, there has still been much to do behind the scenes in finding and connecting supporters with such a worthy cause. To effect radical change in the fight against cancer, the job goes well beyond pink ribbons.
“To see your hard work come to fruition and help someone has been really gratifying,” Daphne says. “That’s the best part. I had taken so much for granted, but now my eyes are wide open.
“Breast cancer not only affects women, it affects men as well. It could be someone’s mom or sister; it could be their dad or brother. It truly affects everyone.”
Daphne’s work with Komen has been a logical first-step in the next chapter of her life. At UCLA, she earned her degree in international development and global health. She missed her college graduation because of cheerleading responsibilities, so DCC President Charlotte Jones and Director Kelli Finglass hosted a mini-graduation ceremony for Daphne among her teammates in the squad’s dance studio.
As Daphne applies that knowledge to a specific purpose, she’s also studying for the LSAT so she can pursue a law degree.
“In college, I found a passion for public health. That’s what drove me into the field of study,” says Daphne. “We take things for granted in the U.S. We have water and healthy sanitation practices. Recently, the pandemic has driven home the importance of public health and understanding how we may be more susceptible to certain diseases.
“I took classes my senior year in human rights, about how we all have the right to breathe clean air and the right to access to schooling. Running water, sanitation and schooling are just a few examples. To bring about change, you have to go at its root cause. My plan is to go to law school and practice international human rights to protect people who are at risk.
Being involved with Komen has inspired Daphne to follow those passions and work for the greater good in public health. Her hope is that one day she’ll be able to help by bringing law practices to an underserved community.
“My mom was able to have chemotherapy and radiation and great doctors,” Daphne says. “She is healthy today, and we are so fortunate. But that’s not the case for everyone. There are people who may not know how to give a self-examination or may not have access to affordable care. That’s why raising awareness, education and providing funding is so important.
“It’s also why I’m grateful to have these ties between Komen and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. It goes to show the opportunities we have outside of cheering on game day, opportunities we can pursue in our careers to make a positive change. This is so much more than cheerleading. This is a sisterhood and we learn about the depths of each squad member. It’s special and we feel lucky to bring awareness to such an important cause that I and all the members of the squad care about so deeply. To be part of the DCC makes me feel proud.
“The pink star may seem like a simple little touch for gameday, but someone may see a photo and wonder, What does that pink star represent? They may look it up, and the next thing you know, they land on Komen’s web page. The pink ties in so easily, but it represents support for a cause that is personal to me and my DCC sisters.”