How the Pink and White football game is kicking breast cancer
The Pink and White Game isn’t like any high school football game you’ve ever attended: Two rival girls’ schools battle it out on the field, and two rival boys’ schools dance it out during the halftime show — all to support the fight against breast cancer.
The motto “Four schools. Two rivalries. One cause. Everyone wins!” perfectly sums up this annual philanthropic flag football game.
For the past eight years, girls from Assumption High School and Sacred Heart Academy have battled for the title of champion, and boys from Saint Xavier and Trinity high schools have entertained at halftime.
Despite the final score, everyone wins. That’s because proceeds from ticket and T-shirt sales benefit the Norton Cancer Institute Breast Health Program. “We strive to support the development of the whole person, and the breast health program attends to not only the physical needs of the person with breast cancer, but the emotional and spiritual needs as well,” said Theresa Schuhmann, dean of studies and student activities at Assumption.
This year, the donation exceeded $20,000, bringing the seven-year total to an impressive $170,000.
The Pink and White Game was born out of Assumption High School’s Senior Dream assembly. Eight years ago Stephanie Coy, class of 2008, and her friends dreamt of playing a public flag football game against the school’s rival, Sacred Heart. The Senior Dream allows juniors to set a goal during their last year of high school. Faculty assists each student with her goal, but it was up to Coy and her classmates to make her dream a reality. They had no idea that the game would become a much-loved community tradition, drawing nearly 5,000 attendees each year.
Lauren Monaghan, wide receiver for Assumption’s 2015 team, said her favorite part of the game was shaking hands with Sacred Heart after a hard loss and looking back to see the sidelines filled with classmates, teachers, administrators, staff, families and community members waiting to greet the team with smiles and open arms.
“They understood that this is more than just a game,” Lauren said. “My heart swells every time I think about that amazing moment.”
Lauren’s twin sister, Katie Monaghan, played quarterback during this year’s game.
“I love that four schools can come together like this. Playing to raise money for Norton Cancer Institute makes the game that much better,” Katie said.
Leading up to the big day, morning announcements at Assumption raise awareness about breast cancer, and Student Council members hand out pink ribbons. After the game, representatives from the four schools tour Norton Cancer Institute, where they present the donation.
“Support from the Pink and White Game ensures screening, education and outreach services are available to women, which means earlier intervention and care,” said Lynnie Meyer, Ed.D., R.N., CFRE, chief development officer for Norton Healthcare.
Supporting those who are fighting breast cancer is woven into the fabric of the game.
“Previously, the Pink and White Game had honestlyjust been a fun game to watch with my friends,” said Sydney Flynn, Sacred Heart’s 2015 quarterback. “The meaning changed for me when my grandma was diagnosed with cancer. I’ve seen how cancer can impact a family, and now I truly understand the importance of why we play.”
The opening ceremony of the game is perhaps the most poignant moment. Each team member plays for someone affected by breast cancer. Honorees are escorted onto the field before the game starts, or players carry flowers for those being remembered. It is a solemn but moving moment — one that stands taller than the cheers, the dances and the muddy plays.
“This game fuels awareness for the cause,” said Hannah Hardy, Sacred Heart class of 2015. “It is an incredible tradition and I am so glad I got to participate so fully.”