In some respects, it was just like any other regular season girls volleyball match. Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe’s freshman, jayvee and varsity squads took to the court, played a volleyball match in front of a near-packed Storm Center on the DV campus.
But while a varsity victory for Desert Vista that night over their local rivals meant another tally in the win column for the season, it was 12,000 notches in the cash column that proved both teams and their supporters, no matter the outcome of the game, came out winners.
That October night served as the culmination of the inaugural “Dig Pink in 'Tukee” event, with the DV and MP volleyball athletes, boosters, parents and other supporters joining together to raise more than $12,000 for breast cancer education and research.
Working together as one unit, the Thunder and Pride output was highest in the nation received by the Side-Out Foundation, which promotes and manages the efforts across the United States.
One year later, both DV and MP are once again back battling for supremacy on the court, and also back for a second season working together for breast cancer awareness.
With the second “Dig Pink in 'Tukee” event scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 22 – this time at Mountain Pointe – both schools are working hard to eclipse their national-best fundraising mark from a year ago – with a new goal set at $15,000.
“This year it’s going to be bigger,” said Desert Vista head coach Molly West, who added that corporate sponsors and a greater push by the student-athletes should help the teams combine to eclipse the 2008 total and reach their new goal.
So far, major contributions have included a $5,000 sponsorship donation from SimonMed Medical Imaging Solutions, a locally-based radiology firm with eight Valley locations, as well as $1,000 from McFarlane Toys, which is owned by longtime Ahwatukee Foothills resident and comic book creator Todd McFarlane.
In all so far more than $8,000 has been raised (as of Oct. 8) on behalf of the Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista “team.”
And rivalry or not, it really is a team, according to the athletes themselves.
“It’s fun because there is this big rivalry, but we really can work hard to try and do something positive like this together,” said Desert Vista senior middle blocker Kyle Hartman.
Hartman and West agreed that there was one moment in particular during last season’s event – which pitted the MP and DV against each other in pink uniforms, with the crowd sporting pink as well – that showed the gravity of the event and its purpose.
“At our event last year, our (PA) announcer asked people to stand as he asked these questions about cancer and breast cancer,” West explained. “By the end, everyone was standing. It was really powerful.”
Added Hartman: “That really gave me goosebumps.”
To kick off this year’s fundraising efforts for its side of the MP/DV equation, Desert Vista hosted local cancer survivor Nicole Scarborough, an AP history teacher at Basha High School in Chandler. Scarborough met with members of all three Desert Vista teams, and discussed her bout with cancer, which showed up while she was pregnant in the second trimester with her second child at the young age of just 26.
“I think the message to me listening, for these girls, is that there’s no demographics to it,” West said of Scarborough’s experience. “She was in her 20s when it happened. I think that was the big message, one that it can happen to anybody any time.”
Scarborough’s child had to be taken early so she could begin surgery and chemotherapy treatments, Scarborough and her husband, Jared, had to rely on family and friends to take care of the newborn baby early on. Eleven months later, Scarborough found another lump and had to go through more chemo and radiation treatments. Today, however, Scarborough is a cancer survivor, something West said adds inspiration to an effort of hope that is continuing to gain steam.
“This is so important, and our girls and our community are realizing it,” West said.
The Thursday, Oct. 22 “Dig Pink in Tukee” event is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. at Mountain Pointe High School, with all three age levels (freshman, junior varsity, varsity) once again taking the court decked out in pink for a cause.
To learn more about last year’s event and for instructions on how to donate to the Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe dig pink team, visit www.thundervolleyball.com and click the pink “Dig Pink” tab on the right side of the screen, or visit www.pridevolleyball.com.