September/October 2021 Issue
August 22, 2021

A conversation with a man in pink: Joe Cantafio, president, West Seneca TA

Source: NYSUT United
making strides

You are a repeat “Real Men Wear Pink” ambassador. Why is this cause important to you?

I do this in memory of Sonia Basko — a revered teacher and respected union and social justice activist.

Although I’m the one wearing the pink, we are #TeamSonia. Sadly, we just lost a friend and West Seneca teacher to cancer so this drive will be even more important.

How much have you raised?

Last year, I raised $8,153. That brings my three-year total to $72,092.

Which of your pink outfits drew the most comments?

My favorite shirt is my pink NYSUT golf shirt given to me by Mike Deely, Western New York regional staff director.

I’m a pretty boring guy, but I post what I wear every day and do more than just wear pink socks. When I wear pink, everyone knows it.

How has your perception about breast cancer changed since you started doing RMWP?

You realize how important this cause is, especially after COVID-19. So much less money was raised. Although we are in a pandemic, cancer didn’t go on lock down. Metastatic breast cancer seems to be more prevalent.

It’s amazing how many people have shared with me their experience dealing with this disease after seeing me as a RMWP ambassador.

Your union colleagues truly support you in this endeavor. Are you surprised?

It’s what unions do. We help those in need. I’m humbled and honored that so many of my brothers and sisters support this cause. My first two years, I was in the top 10 in the nation for fundraising. I was proudly the only union member.

Visit to support Cantafio and #TeamSonia.