By Joseph Staszewski
The Cardozo boys’ lacrosse team got a reminder of exactly what it was working for. Former Judges defender Steven Budhan, who beat Hodgkin’s lymphoma just two years ago, spoke to the team a little more than two weeks prior to the team’s Coaches vs. Cancer game in his honor.
“He just said, ‘Live your life. You never know when something like that is going to happen,’” senior goalie Chris Yeh said.
Cardozo players wore lime green socks and Coach Chris Milani donned those along with a green T-shirt for lymphoma for the team’s 18-9 exhibition game win over Stuyvesant as part of the athletic department’s cancer awareness day Saturday afternoon.
It also included a girls’ lacrosse and JV baseball game to go along with the school’s annual boys’ volleyball tournament. Cardozo won all four and through food sales and $1 donation cards raised more than $1,000.
“We played hard for him today,” senior midfielder Bektosh Ayoob said. “He was in our hearts. This meant a lot. Once we found out that he had cancer, it affected everyone. Especially in high school we didn’t know that much about cancer. He was like a big brother figure to us.”
Budhan’s journey remains with the team every day. An article about him and his picture appears in and outside the locker room, something Yeh said he looks at when he needs inspiration. Budhan was known for his toughness and leadership. Milani still remembers the day he had to tell the team that their friend had cancer, calling it the hardest thing he’s had to do in his life up until then. After six months of treatment, Budhan was able to play his senior season.
“Once he got cancer, he fought it and came back and played more lacrosse,” Ayoob said.
The day became a reality when the American Cancer Society sent the school some information and athletic director Joe Cavallo jumped at the opportunity to do something. Milani, girls’ lacrosse Coach Lou DeCicco, volleyball Coach Danny Scarola and JV baseball head man Rich Parascos came up with the idea of each team representing a cancer that had meaning for them.
“People say, ‘What’s the lime green for?’ and we can tell them about lymphatic cancer,” Ayoob said.
Added Miliani, “We did it to highlight Steven’s courage.”
The Judges now get back to the business of trying to win a PSAL title after getting off to a 5-2 start, good enough for third place.
Yeh believes his team just needs to work a little harder and get on the same page. It’s something Budhan has always preached. All of the Judges were on board for the idea of raising money to help others who were affected by the disease they saw a close friend and teammate battle.
“Every dollar that we get for cancer research is just better for everybody,” Ayoob said.