Think pink isn't intimidating? The Western Warriors would beg to differ.
The Walled Lake Western Warrior varsity football team will take the field wearing pink jerseys Friday, in a game that will be the culmination of months of fundraising and community education to fight cancer, spearheaded by three booster parents.
"If we're doing this, we're going all the way," said event coordinators Rob and Sandy Jenkin, who live in Farmington Hills and are Warrior parents and members of the football booster club. The effort started by the football team's booster club now has spread to the entire community.
Farmington Hills resident Linda Ishbia, 42, is one booster member that has been working closely with the Jenkins. One of her responsibilities has been to hang posters promoting the event at area businesses.
"There was no hesitation in any of the places I went," she said of hanging posters. She said aside from the businesses that had corporate restrictions, everyone was more than willing to promote the event.
Ishbia said promoting the event started a community conversation about cancer. She was surprised at the number of lives that have been touched by cancer.
"I saw how many people in our community have been affected by cancer, people I didn't know where affected," she said. "Not just breast cancer but all cancers."
A core group of booster parents started organizing the Warriors for Warriors "Pink Out" six months before breast cancer awareness month, which is October, and set a goal of raising $75,000. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Susan G. Komen Detroit chapter. Komen Detroit is a community resource for education and advocacy in the metro area.
"There is so much to be said about this kind of education," Ishbia said. "This is an opportunity for the kids at our school to have an impact outside of the school."
"We're hoping to continue this year after year, with a goal of raising $500,000 in five years," said Sandy Jenkin. "We're doing everything we can to make that goal."
The football team has been promoting "Warrior Wednesdays" since the beginning of the school year, with team members wearing pink T-shirts to school each Wednesday to raise awareness of breast cancer and encourage other students to purchase shirts.
Michael Jenkin is a Western senior and member of the football team. He said he knew immediately that he wanted his jersey to sponsor the mother of a childhood friend, Farmington Hills resident Nancy Zeidman. Zeidman is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
"When my parents told me about the game, she was the first person I thought of," Michael said. "She made an impact on my life. She became like a mom to me."
Each jersey worn by the football team has been sponsored by a survivor or representative, in many instances, an acquaintance or friend. Instead of the player's last name, the jersey will bear the last name of the person it honors. There will be a ceremony both before and after the game. In the post game ceremony sponsors will be called onto the field to receive their jersey. Sandy Jenkin said the players will each say, "I played in honor of you" as they present the jersey.
"We're showing the boys that they're not just wearing pink, they're playing for an actual person," Jenkins said.
Ishbia has seen the massive fundraising effort have an effect on students.
"I've been really impressed with the kids, they're really embracing this," she said. "They're not just looking at it like it's a football game."
Michael said there has also been a noticeable impact on the community as a whole. He was one of a group of high school students that held a registration day at the middle school, encouraging younger kids to purchse a pink T-shirt in support.
"It shows that a community can come together for a common goal," he said. "We just want people to help support the cause, so other people don't have to go through the same hardships."
Pink breast cancer awareness shirts will serve as tickets for admission into Friday's varsity football game against Grand Blanc at Walled Lake Western High School. Shirts will be sold at the gate and are $15. The game starts at 7 p.m.