In Miami, Nike donated uniforms from its Pro Combat line to two rivals ahead of a much anticipated annual matchup. In Oregon, another school also received Nike's top-of-the-line duds, but theirs incorporated a very special color rarely found in high school teams' color schemes: pink.
As covered extensively by OregonLive.com, Tigard (Ore.) High played the final game of its regular season on Friday night wearing customized, Nike Pro Combat uniforms which featured pink letters and numbers on the school's green jerseys. The pink-highlighted getups were actually Nike's idea, with the shoe company aiming to reward the school for its legacy of breast cancer fundraising.
Somewhat fittingly, Tigard dominated the "Pink Out" game, rolling to a 55-7 victory against the Hillsboro (Ore.) Spartans to finish the regular season with a perfect, 9-0 record.
"These kids get engaged and their families get engaged and the message spreads," Susan G. Komen Foundation spokesperson Andrea Rader told OregonLive.com. "And what we find then is that people tend to act. ... Thirty years ago, you couldn't even talk about this disease. I had an aunt die and we never mentioned it because there was a shame and a stigma attached to it. It's really wonderful what these kids are doing. It's really very heartwarming."
The special uniforms were unveiled for the school's annual "Pink Out" game, which raises funds for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer awareness. The Pink Out game was borne out of the 2009 Tigard team's desire to help then-assistant coach Jay Butz's wife, who was in the throes of breast cancer chemotherapy.
The evolution of the town's obsession with breast cancer fundraising went something like this: The 2009 football team decided to walk in the Komen Portland Race for the Cure, eventually getting the entire varsity squad to show up and take part. That inspired the student body to hold its first-ever "Pink Out" at that Friday's football game, with players wrapping their shoes and gear in pink tape as a dedication to the Butzes.
Shortly thereafter, Stephanie Butz survived her battle with the disease, but the team continued to fundraise, leaving a legacy that inspired officials at Nike to reach out and offer to create the custom uniforms for the team, which Tigard officials say they will wear once each season in the future as a commitment to their breast cancer prevention efforts.
If that helps the school continue to raise significant funds for the fight against breast cancer, the players involved are all for it.
"You don't really think about cancer until you know somebody who's been diagnosed, and once you have somebody close to you who becomes threatened with that terrible disease, it hits you how hard it is," senior lineman Isaac Schimmels said. "Watching Stephanie go through that was really hard. But to see her pull through and make it and be a survivor and to see our school do everything we could to give her support was really cool. This has been something I'll never forget."
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- breast cancer