Thursday night, October 29, Garland’s Naaman Forest Rangers commemorated PINK OUT during their football game against the Rowlett Eagles.
PINK OUT is an event that is held each October at high school football games all around America. The goal of PINK OUT is to raise awareness for breast cancer and to educate young women about the disease. PINK OUT is also a significant fundraiser for the Young Women's Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation (YWBCAF).
Now in its seventh year, PINK OUT began when high school cheerleader Ellese Meyer conceived the idea to honor her mom, Terri Alvino Meyer.
Terri Meyer, wife, mother of two kids (Ellese and Evan) and a pharmaceutical sales representative in Pennsylvania was diagnosed with breast cancer in her late 30’s.
She underwent surgery and chemotherapy and had a three year remission, but the cancer returned and traveled throughout her body.
In spite of a full plate as a wife and working mother, Terri continued to support the YWBCAF during her fight with cancer.
Terri’s personal goal as a mom was to make it to her son’s high school graduation. Unfortunately, Terri died before that became a reality.
Terri’s daughter Ellese was a high school senior and the captain of the Mt.Lebanon cheerleading squad. To honor her mom, Ellese wanted to turn the football stadium pink and raise money for the YWBCAF. She took her idea to the Mt Lebanon athletic director and PINK OUT was born.
On game night of the first PINK OUT, the football players wore pink ribbons on their helmets, cheerleaders had pink pompoms and the band flew pink flags. Students were able to purchase pink t- shirts.
The stadium was a sea of pink that night. The entire high school had embraced the idea. The volleyball team, the soccer team, and the lacrosse team all went pink and collected money during games in October.
Young people are affected by breast cancer on a daily basis. Not just girls, but also boys, by the loss of mothers, grandmothers, aunts, teachers and friends.
Natalie Rachel, a junior at NaamanForest and varsity cheerleader, was personally touched by the loss of a loved one this year to breast cancer.
“Breast cancer has affected my life tremendously. It has always been a factor in my life from the scare of my mom having to get check ups every six months at doctor’s appointments all the way to our beloved cousin, Susie, who was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was still a little girl,” Natalie said..
Natalie’s cousin Sue Wagoner lost her fight to breast cancer this past February. Coincidentally, she was captain of the cheerleading squad at her high school during 1961 and 62.
NaamanForest varsity cheer coach Lesa Atkinson has also been personally touched by a loved one diagnosed with breast cancer.
Ms. Atkinson spoke with several students who have experienced sorrow or loss as a result of breast cancer and they shared these heartfelt comments:
“When I was 13 my Grandma died of breast cancer; it was shocking and I miss her a lot. I didn't even know she had it.”
“Someone dear to me was diagnosed with breast cancer. The radiation has caused her pain and makes it difficult to move around and do stuff. She has been diagnosed for over a year, but she still fights everyday and continues to fight.
“My Godmother/great aunt had breast cancer a year ago. Having it was tough to watch; how easily her emotions changed. Luckily, she survived, but has a chance to get it again.”
“My granny had cancer. She died the last day of my last school year. My granny was and still is the person who most affected my life. It gets hard sometimes. But I know she's better now and that God was the first to cry, so I'm getting through it with my family and that helps a lot.”
Ms. Atkinson’s family member survived the disease, for which they are eternally thankful, but the effects the struggle caused the young family with small children remains in their lives forever.
Special Education teacher at NaamanForest, Maggie Courbin, has also felt the effects of breast cancer.
“I’ve lost a number of family members to that abhorrent disease called cancer, Ms. Courbin said. Cancer has brought so much heart ache and despair to my family that the very name brings out our fighting spirit. When the disease comes calling, we arm ourselves as best we can and join together to fight the good fight. Sometimes we win, and sometime we loose, but we never give up the fight.”
Breast cancer affects more than those at NaamanForest though. Experts predict that 234,190 women will be diagnosed and 40,730 women will die this year from breast cancer in the U.S. In Texas alone, 16,510 women are expected to be diagnosed and 2,710 are expected to die this year from breast cancer.
Awareness and early diagnosis are key to survival.
For more information on the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation visit www.youngwomensbreastcancerfoundation.com.
Thank you NaamanForest cheering squad for giving us PINK OUT.