From late September through the month of October, athletic programs around Wisconsin become focused on their push toward conference titles and the postseason. For several area schools, though, the period of time wasn’t just about focusing on accomplishing their preseason goals, but also about giving back to their communities.
Manitowoc Lincoln and Reedsville are just two examples of Manitowoc County high schools whose Fall athletic programs spearheaded efforts in late September and October to raise funds to be donated to local hospitals in an effort to aid in research to combat breast cancer. The pair each held nights in which funds were raised, as well as selling shirts with the proceeds being donated.
For Lincoln, this was the second year of participating in the Fox River Classic Conference’s plan to increase awareness of breast cancer. This year, the FRCC came up with a design that each of its member schools put on warm up shirts to be worn on Oct. 4. Last year, the Ships volleyball team had an away game for the FRCC’s chosen date, but in hosting Sheboygan North this year, for the first the squad was able to get all of Lincoln’s Fall sports programs involved in raising funds to be split between the breast cancer units at Aurora Medical Center and Holy Family Memorial.
Upon finding out the Ships volleyball team was hosting a breast cancer awareness match, Lincoln volleyball coach Mary Beth Dixon and assistant girls tennis coach Stephanie Henschel came together in an attempt to get every Lincoln Fall sports program involved, asking each player to sell as many shirts as possible.
“It makes the kids aware of all the difficulties people are going through. We talk about how many people are affected by breast cancer somewhere and it’s amazing to see the number that have been affected,” Dixon said. “I want the kids to feel like they are doing it for a purpose and not just wearing pink. I want them to see there is a meaning to it.”
Last year around 100 shirts were sold, so this year Dixon said the goal was to have every player sell about five shirts and top that number. The volleyball team alone doubled last year’s total and the final tally of shirts sold was above the 500 mark. But that was only a starter for where money was raised.
Monetary contributions were also made from the Lincoln girls swim team which sold pink cupcakes and cookies, as well as the shirts, at last week’s Manitowoc Invite. Also, on Sept. 26, the $1 admission fee to see the Lincoln powder puff football game was donated, with many refusing to take change when paying with $5, $10 and $20 bills. And at the volleyball match, Lincoln’s Family and Consumer Education classes were selling pretzels dipped in pink frosting and pink light bulbs, along with handing out information on breast cancer.
In total, Lincoln’s efforts raised $4,800 Lincoln athletic director John Johnson said. Next week, those who helped put together the fund raiser will have their picture taken with a large mock check.
“Knowing we have coaches and student athletes that are that dedicated to this cause, while also being concerned about the school, it’s pretty cool and pretty humbling,” Johnson said. “It shows that there is a genuine care and concern for other people that are fighting this kind of battle and that our kids realize it’s a real issue and we need to continue to fight it so at some point in time it can be overcome and a cure can be found. There is a lot of pride there in knowing our kids and coaches will step up to do something like this.”
Reedsville’s fourth annual fund raising efforts took place near the end of September as the volleyball team held its breast cancer awareness night on Set. 25 while money was also raised by the football team at its Sept. 21 game. Bucket raffles were held at each event with prizes being from local businesses who had donated the items, with pink shirts also being sold. In the end, 200 shirts sold and more than $2,000 was raised.
“The girls really like doing it and I think it’s important for the girls to understand that it is important to give back to the community,” Reedsville volleyball coach Kristine Hanson. “It’s rare to find someone who doesn’t know someone who has been affected by breast cancer.”
Reedsville co-athletic director Steve Mirsberger credits Hanson with spearheading the fund raising, something the volleyball team, the school and the community look forward to each year.
“It’s one of first things (Hanson) puts on the schedule each year. The girls rally behind it, they look forward to it, they work at it and it’s a good team bonding experience,” Mirsberger said. “We may have lost the volleyball match that night, and yet we took a picture of everyone in the stands who was wearing a pink shirt and there were smiles all around because they had done something good and they knew that and they felt that.”