Dwyer among area football teams participating in Breast Cancer Awareness month
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
by Matt Porter
According to her family, Catherine Johnson doesn't talk much. But few words were needed when she saw her grandson last week.
Sitting outside Rehabilitation Center of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Johnson's eyes sparkled when she saw Dwyer senior defensive end Malik Brown approaching in an all-pink football jersey. Johnson, 73, will watch from the stands as Brown and his team wear the uniforms this Friday when the Panthers play host to Santaluces.
Brown wears the uniform for his grandmother, who always had a plate full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a jug of milk waiting for him whenever he visited. She's a 10-year breast cancer survivor.
"When she sees me sack the quarterback in all-pink, she would be in tears," said Brown, who last October wore pink socks, pink gloves and on his wrists, pink tape. "I can't wait."
Brown, a Palm Beach Post Super 11 selection, is one of many amateur and professional athletes across the nation wearing pink this month for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Dwyer is one of eight high school football programs wearing Adidas' custom all-pink jerseys.
The Panthers, along with Broward powerhouse Miramar, were hand-selected to represent Adidas' commitment to raising breast cancer awareness and it's hard to find a team this fall that doesn't pay tribute in some way.
From Cardinal Newman to Inlet Grove, from John I. Leonard to Park Vista and Wellington, multiple area schools are sporting pink shoelaces, gloves, socks and other accessories. The familiar pink ribbon logo is seen on fields, signage and helmet decals. Most teams hold fundraisers of some kind.
Every team wearing pink has a story of survival or tribute to those who succumbed to cancer . It's a disease that will affect one in eight women, according to the American Cancer Society, and in 2012 will claim an estimated 39,510 lives.
Glades Day wears pink shoelaces and a helmet sticker bearing the initials of coach Pete Walker's sister-in-law, who is recovering from cancer surgery. Jupiter Christian volleyball will hold a pink-themed fundraiser at Thursday's game for Elizabeth Bock, the late mother of freshman Brianna Bock.
American Heritage, which two years ago dyed its white socks pink in honor of a late Stallions parent, will again wear pink socks. Senior linebacker Evan Harvey wears a pink T-shirt under his uniform in honor of his mother, Nancy.
Harvey, a 13-year survivor, and her children devote their time to participating in breast cancer awareness fundraisers.
"The more awareness, the more money," Harvey said. "The more money, the more technology. The more technology, the better chance for a cure."
As with most sporting trends, the pros lead the way. Four Octobers ago, NFL players began wearing pink-accented jerseys and apparel, and teams decorated stadiums. Since 2006, Major League Baseball has designated Mother's Day as the day players swing pink bats. Nearly all major sports teams sponsor related fundraising events.
NASCAR driver Eliot Sadler, wears pink shoes in all his races in honor of his mother, a five-year breast cancer survivor. On Friday, he will dress head-to-toe and bumper-to-bumper in pink during the Dollar General 300 in Charlotte.
How prevalent is pink? In 2011, the iconic Madden NFL video game series even installed a "Breast Cancer Awareness Month" gameplay option.
Dwyer coach Jack Daniels said he couldn't imagine wearing pink when he played for North Shore High in the 1980s. But when Adidas team sales representative Rob Van Brocklin asked Daniels if his team would wear pink jerseys, the response was decisive.
"It wasn't even a 'Let me think about it,' " Brocklin said. "It was 'Absolutely.' "
Daniel says he's honored to coach a team of pink Panthers.
"The kids love it," Daniels said. "If it's for a good cause and helps one person survive or finds money for a cure, I love it."