PHOTOS BY AMBER DOTY
FOR THE DGKN
By ARIEL STAHLER
Gazette & News sports writer
Dalton High School’s sports teams are known for their fighting spirit on the court and field, but this season, they are showing support to a Dalton woman who is in the middle of her own fight against breast cancer.
Breana Hurtt was the recipient of Dalton’s and Rittman’s Volley for the Cure funds. Each year, local volleyball teams host Volley for the Cure events to raise money for a local person with breast cancer or to donate to breast cancer research. Rittman hosted Dalton for their Volley for the Cure event Sept. 28.
“We were so grateful we were able to honor Breana and that Rittman wanted to give their proceeds to her, as well,” said Dalton’s varsity volleyball head coach Allison Hostetler. “This year, we have talked a lot about not taking anything for granted and having someone in your community fighting against cancer puts everything into perspective.”
Dalton put together four raffle baskets, one for each grade, along with baskets made by Rittman for the Volley for the Cure game. Tickets were sold and the baskets were raffled off between the first and second sets of the varsity game. Both teams also wore Volley for the Cure shirts in place of their regular jerseys and Dalton’s shirts had “Fight Like Breana Hurtt” on them.
The teams were able to raise over $700 at the game, which Rittman’s team presented to Hurtt. Hurtt attended the game with her husband, Alex, and daughter, Isabella, but she was not aware of what the teams had planned until she arrived at the gym. Prior to the game, she only knew about Dalton’s shirts. Hurtt was encouraged to attend them game, but she was initially reluctant due to it being an away game on the same evening as her son’s freshman football game.
After some convincing from her children, she decided to go to the game.
“I really did not know until I got there what they had planned,” said Hurtt. “The tears definitely came as I was walking in because it was not what I was expecting and it was honestly overwhelming. The community support from Dalton in general has been overwhelming, especially with the school. But especially to see at Rittman, that’s not even our school, and they supported it. Honestly, there’s just not enough words to even convey what that meant to me. It was just so awesome.”
Hurtt, who has been living in Dalton since 2013, was diagnosed with stage III triple negative breast cancer after a routine mammogram in July 2023 at the age of 42. Hurtt explained triple negative breast cancer is not fueled by hormones. It is a very rare and aggressive form of breast cancer and it necessitates a more aggressive form of treatment. Hurtt must complete six months of chemotherapy before she can undergo any type of surgery. She is currently halfway through the chemo portion with 13 doses remaining. If everything goes as planned, she will finish chemo in January and have surgery in February. Even if cancer is not detected during the surgery, Hurtt will still have six months of treatment, which will likely be immunotherapy in the form of Keytruda, a treatment that has been approved for her type of cancer.
Hurtt noted the support she has received from the Dalton community and what it has meant to her.
“There is a meal train,” said Hurtt. “Many people in Dalton have signed up to provide meals, and to be honest with you, the meals have helped more than anything because I do have three kids and my husband is trying to work and we are spread thin.”
In addition to the Volley for the Cure game, Hurtt has also felt support from Dalton’s varsity football team. Hurtt is a realtor and some of her sponsors surprised her with shirts that featured her name and the breast cancer awareness ribbon on the back. The shirts were thrown to the crowd at Dalton football games this season. Hurtt’s sons Trenton and Parker are both on the football team. During a game earlier in the season, the team wore a helmet decal with Hurtt’s initials and a pink ribbon. Head coach Broc Dial also dedicated the game to Hurtt.
Hurtt attributes her positive outlook to the support she has felt from the Dalton community and schools. Community members whom she has never met have reached out to her and people have been supporting her real estate business. The support from the volleyball and football teams had a profound impact on Hurtt that stuck with her beyond game day.
“This is definitely the worst experience of my life,” said Hurtt. “It is very hard. Just day- to-day activities are hard and mental is just such a big part of this. I feel like without the community’s support, I would not be where I am today with such a positive mental state. The sports really stepping up and the surprise with the football helmets really meant a lot and so did the volleyball. I am so happy that I live in Dalton and I really feel like I have so much support here.”
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