Connecticut has the highest incidence of breast cancer in the US, with 3,000 women in the state diagnosed this year alone. For the last five years, the Wilton Y Wahoos have been contributing to the fight against breast cancer, and the swimmers continue their efforts again this year through a month-long fundraiser, holding a variety of events to raise money and awareness.

Last year’s fundraiser culminated with swimmer Hirsh Iyer donating his hair to support cancer survivors who experience hair loss. His example inspired his younger teammates to become more aware of the impact of breast cancer and take action to help fight it. This year, Hirsh’s younger sister Anya Iyer and teammate Zoe Skidell will be donating their hair, which they have been growing out since last year.

The Wilton Y Wahoos team is sponsoring an event to cheer on Anya and Zoe as they have their hair cut for their donation. On Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 6 p.m., stylists from A2 Salon in Ridgefield will cut Anya and Zoe’s hair in the Wilton Family YMCA lobby. Letizia’s Pizza from Norwalk is donating pizza for the event. Community members are invited to be attend and share in the team’s enthusiastic support of Anya and Zoe.

Both girls say they are excited to continue the tradition started by Hirsh.

“Coach Matt Hall (who lost his mother to breast cancer) encouraged my brother Hirsh to grow his hair to donate for the cause. I learned a lot from that experience and decided to continue the effort this year and hope more kids come forward to join the fight against breast cancer. I feel empowered and proud that my team supports this cause and helps kids play a larger role in the fight against cancer,” Anya said.

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“I was motivated by the efforts last year and felt empowered to help in the fight against breast cancer. I decided to grow my hair and donate this year. I also hope more kids come forward next year to do the same and help beat cancer,” said Zoe.

The rest of the team has worked hard at raising awareness and money throughout the month. Other efforts have included fundraising sales of pink swimming caps and t-shirts; they’ll have remaining caps and t-shirts available for purchase at the YMCA Thanksgiving Invitational Meet during the weekend of Nov. 16-18. They hope that anyone who has previously purchased caps and shirts will wear them during the meet to “paint the pool pink!” Wilton Y Wahoo families will spend their spare time making homemade desserts for a bake sale, which will be held on Friday, Nov. 9 at the Wilton Family YMCA.

Head coach of the Wilton Y Wahoos Randy Erlenbach shares his pride at what the team has accomplished out of the pool on behalf of breast cancer fundraising. “I feel proud that the upcoming generation is able to contribute meaningfully to the cause in the fight against cancer. To witness how our children in the swim team are giving back is really motivational and heart-warming.”