Friday night is all about the bright lights shining over the gridiron, but some things are bigger than football. And tonight at Thunder Mountain High School is just such an occasion.
The Thunder Mountain football and cheer teams, in conjunction with the Peregrine Booster Club, are hosting the first-ever Falcons Care Night in support of the fight against breast cancer. The Falcons are taking on Ketchikan at 8 p.m. in a Southeast Conference clash.
All money made at the gate, from the sale of “memory balloons” and donations will go directly to Cancer Connection.
There will be volunteers from local businesses and a group from Cancer Connection at the game, and there also will be giveaways and an information tent with brochures on cancer awareness.
“This is a way to say ‘thank you’ to the community for all its support,” Peregrine Booster Club Vice President Lisa Corcoran said via email. “The football and cheer teams, coaches and Peregrine Club board members want to give back. The boys will be playing Ketchikan, and will also be wearing special uniforms to support breast cancer awareness.”
Memory balloons in honor of survivors, those who are battling cancer and those who have died can be had for a $1 donation. Everyone with balloons will go onto the field at halftime for a special ceremony when they will be released.
The Peregrine Booster Club also will have a silent auction of six football jerseys, and several local businesses are sponsoring the event.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, more than 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,000 will die each year.
One woman in eight either has or will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and approximately 1,700 men also will be diagnosed, and about 450 will die each year.
Members of the Falcons football team and coaching staff have been affected by breast cancer in their families.
Assistant coach Ray Bradley lost his mother, Gladys Beth Bradley, to the disease when he was still in high school.
“I was a senior and it was devastating when we lost her,” he said. “Our family was pretty broken up. We had seven brothers and one girl, and it was really tough.”
Bradley said anything that can help raise awareness is important, and the team is happy to help.
“Breast cancer is something that is finally being recognized as needing help and needing people in the community to help out,” he said. “I think it’s great that the high school is doing something like this. We need things like this to bring the community together and to raise awareness, for survivors and for those who have suffered.”
Senior Eric Reyna has an aunt that won her battle with the disease.
“Well, I think she found out about five years ago that she had breast cancer and it was really rough on her,” he said. “But my mom and my other aunt say she’s doing much better, and now she works with older people and she’s giving back.”
Giving back also is what the Falcons want to do, and they hope to have a huge crowd come out for the game to join the fight.
“What we’re trying to do is get out to the community that breast cancer is an epidemic that’s spreading. We need everything we can get to find a cure, and we need everyone to come out and support us,” Reyna said. “We want everyone to dress up in pink to help support the cause because I’m sure practically everyone has a close relative or someone they know that is suffering.”
• According to its website, Cancer Connection is a “grass-roots, nonprofit organization designed to assist people living with cancer, their families, and support systems.”
For more information on how to help Cancer Connection, call 796-2273 in Juneau, or visit www.cancerconnectionak.org