Panthers don pink for cancer awareness
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STANDISH — When the Standish-Sterling Central football team trotted out to play Manistee Friday night, they did so with a good cause in mind.
Instead of the standard navy blue, the Panthers wore pink uniforms in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Parents, community members and local businesses came together to help raise funds for the uniforms and support cancer awareness.
City of Standish Mayor Pro Tem Jerry Nelson, whose son, Konner Nelson, is a member of the team, said he and Standish-Sterling Community Schools Board of Education trustee Dennis Kolevar came up with the idea for the “Pink Game” a few months ago.
“Denny (Kolevar) recently lost his father-in-law to cancer and I lost my mother-in-law, and we just thought, ‘Why don’t we do this?’” He said. “That is when we started to gather donations.”
“We did not intend on calling this game the ‘Pink Game’ as many people are calling it, but I think that is what it is turning into,” he added.
Nelson said a number of people from across the area chipped in to help purchase the uniforms, which cost approximately $20-$30 each.
“This was a costly thing but everyone did their part to support it,” he said.
To officially get the ball rolling on the project, Nelson said he and Kolevar checked with SSC Athletic Director Ben Welmers and head coach Paul Walderzak.
“Ben cleared things as far as rules were concerned and Paul talked to his players,” Nelson said. “From what Paul told us, all of the players were on board and are excited to do this.”
Walderzak said the players were excited for the opportunity.
“When I came to the team they were all for this,” he said. “Almost everyone knows someone who has had some form of cancer and they guys wanted to pay their tribute.”
Not only were the uniforms pink, Nelson said all of the players had the opportunity to choose a name to put on the back of the jerseys.
“My son is putting Busia, which is Polish for grandma, on his uniform,” he said. “After the game he is going to give that uniform to his grandfather.”
Walderzak said he hopes to see the “Pink Game” continue each year.
“This was a community effort,” he said. “The community came to us with this idea and we were glad to be a part of it.”
Nelson said that because money for the uniforms was collected late in the year, all of the proceeds are invested in the uniforms. He added that he hopes to see this game become a tradition and raise money for cancer research.
“Hopefully this is just the first step,” he said. “We want to see this become a tradition for our community and help out research if we can.”