When rival schools Gilbert and Highland meet Tuesday night for a girls-boys basketball doubleheader, the only outcome that will matter will be how much money the schools raise to help a man and his fight with cancer.
Chip Pettit, a Gilbert High (Ariz.) alum and the principal at Towne Meadows Elementary School, which feeds Highland (Gilbert, Ariz.), was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer in December 2015 at 36 years old.
Since then, Pettit has has several surgeries and 25 rounds of chemotherapy, his most recent coming three weeks ago. He says he still has tumors in his liver, but he has hope and a large community of love and support.
Gilbert Public Schools has stepped up since the day Pettit was diagnosed. Last year, funds were raised to help Pettit and his family at the football game between Gilbert and Highland. More than $5,000 was raised.
This year, Gilbert and Highland are no longer in the same conference: Gilbert has gone down to 5A and Highland is at 6A. But Tuesday’s basketball double-header at Highland – the girls will play first at 5:30 p.m. – not only saves the rivalry but gives the community another reason to give back.
“Sometimes, it’s bigger than basketball,” Highland girls coach Chad Taylor said. “I talked to the kids about it. I said, ‘When all is said and done, what kind of legacy are you going to leave on the program and the school and the community? Basketball is a little snippet in your lives. It’s more than basketball.'”
T-shirts have been made by the Highland student council, selling at $5 a shirt, to help raise funds during the doubleheader. On the shirt, it says, “Rivals against cancer. Tigers vs. Hawks. Two teams. One Mission.”