By Cathy Kimmel-Srock
Review Staff Writer
When Lake Orion hosts the Oxford Wildcats at Dragon Stadium on September 16, it’s not going to be about the green and white. Or even the blue and gold. It’s going to be all about the pink.
The rivalry game will feature the teams coming together to benefit A Mother’s Wish with a “PINK OUT” game. Both the Orion and Oxford communities can get involved by sponsoring a player’s jersey in memory, honor or support of someone battling any type of cancer.
“The model has been out there for a number of years,” said Lake Orion Varsity Football Coach Chris Bell. “Breast cancer awareness has always been a cause in the football world, from NFL to college all the way down to high school.”
The partnership with Lake Orion Football and A Mother’s Wish was a natural one, especially as the organization was initiated in – and created – in memory of former Lake Orion teacher Kathy Luby, who lost her battle to breast cancer in 2008.
“We’ve got A Mother’s Wish, a tremendous organization in our community that helps so many women in need and not just in our community but surrounding communities,” Bell said.
“The family is near and dear to our program and it was an opportunity for us to do more to help,” he explained, adding that the Luby boys came through the LO football program, plus Bell went to school with Kathy and has known her husband, Don, for a long time.
On the night of the pink game, players will wear special jerseys, and for $75 plus tax, anyone can sponsor one of those jerseys, which will feature the player’s number as well as whatever name the sponsor selects for the back, like “Grandpa Joe” or “Uncle Bob,” according to Jennifer Mercier, one of the parents that is part of coordinating the event for the Dragons. Then, after the game, the sponsors will join the teams down on the field and receive the jerseys back in a ceremony.
“The player will take the jersey off – sweaty and all – and hand the jersey over to the people that sponsored it,” said Mercier.
“It’s for our kids,” Bell said. “We always talk about being part of something greater than yourself and it’s a great opportunity for us to give back in a meaningful way to our community.”
This is the second year Orion is hosting the jersey sponsorship pink game for A Mother’s Wish, but the first time both teams are involved. According to Mercier, last year when the team played Stoney Creek was the inaugural event, but as the event has continued to improve and grow, they decided to include both teams. Bell believes this to be a good choice.
“We really look forward to the opportunity to bring Oxford into the mix,” said Bell, mentioning the rivalry between the two schools. “It’s a special game, but also the fact that A Mother’s Wish’s presence is felt in Oxford as well.”
“It’s a great opportunity for them to get on board and they’ve been tremendous,” he added. “Bud, their coach, was all over it. Their parents are running with it as well, and they are doing a great job with it from that end.”
Oxford Varsity Football Coach Bud Rowley thought it was an important for his team to participate and spoke highly of the event.
“I think it’s important for our young men to understand and give back and to see there is a lot of things out in the world that can cause heartache and pain,” Rowley said.
“They can help and be a part of it and make someone’s day by wearing that jersey, by playing in that game,” he added.
Last year, every Lake Orion player wore a sponsored jersey, and the goal this year is for every player on both teams to have one.
“We want as many people as possible to participate,” said Domonique Call, one of the Oxford parents coordinating for the Wildcats. “It’s such a great charity and it’s a fantastic way to honor someone who has been touched by cancer, and it makes a great keepsake.”
The deadline to sponsor a jersey is this Friday, August 19.
To sponsor a jersey for the teams, go to Sportsaddix.com, select ‘Team Sites’ and choose either Lake Orion or Oxford depending on which team you want to wear your sponsored jersey. Any individuals that have questions can contact either Mercier at Jennifer.email@example.com (for Lake Orion) or Call at firstname.lastname@example.org (for Oxford).
Fans that are interested in sporting some pink at the game in support can also purchase special event shirts. Those will be available at ToolSport & Sign, located on Lapeer Road in Oxford, their website, toolsportandsign.com, or either of the high schools once school is back in session. A portion of the proceeds from those will also benefit A Mother’s Wish.
Bell hopes that the event can continue as a yearly thing between the Lake Orion and Oxford football games.
“I hope this can grow, just to add more meaning into what is already a great rivalry,” he added.
The game is part of a pink weekend in Orion, which also features the 6th Annual 5K/10K Run/Walk for A Mother’s Wish on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 9 a.m. (registration begins at 7:30 a.m.) at Lake Orion High School. For more information about that event, or the organization itself, visit amotherswishmichigan.com.