The numbers, which probably should be written in pink these days, are staggering but they are being helped out by a bunch of young women hitting and digging around the nation.
At the forefront of the national movement, at least in the Dig Pink fight against breast cancer, have been the Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista girls volleyball programs.
Together the two rivals have raised more than $60,000 over the last five years, one of the top figures nationally for the SideOut foundation, with a chance to raise that total on Thursday at Desert Vista when the six weeks of fundraising stops and the event happens.
“It was surprising how big it was that first year and then each year it has grown even more,” Desert Vista coach Molly West said. “The intent was to be a part of something bigger than us, the sport or the rivalry. It actually unites us, which is the ironic thing about sports, too. We are really excited to be a part of a meaningful effort that includes the community for something that impacts us all.
“It feels like an event now.”
That it is.
The match itself has an impact as it is the final one of the regular season and playoff seeding is at stake. Both teams are in line to qualify, although Mountain Pointe is in the tougher position and needs a win in order to stave off the possibility of being knocked out of the top 16.
That will play out in the days to come, but the battle against cancer is far from over.
It is why this event has become so important and is only surpassed by the Ahwatukee Bowl in annual meetings between the two schools.
The celebration of the survivors, the acknowledgement of those who have been touched by the disease before the match, the silent auction, the sea of pink in the bleachers, the student body embracing the movement by wearing crazy getups, and the faculty doing its part all comes together for one powerful evening with the varsity match starting around 6 p.m..
“It is amazing how many people have their lives impacted by the disease,” Pride coach Fred Mann said. “When we have everyone stand up barely anyone is still sitting. One of my ex-players, Alex Schloissnik, lost his mother during his junior year after a long battle with breast cancer.
“The loss of Ingrid, obviously, had a devastating effect on this young man and his family. If we can do something to lessen that effect then we are doing something right.”
The community, even those who have nothing to do with either program, has been a huge part of the success.
They come out, support the cause, and bid on auction pieces. This year auction items include diamond earrings, Cardinals suite tickets and memorabilia, salon gifts, golf outings and gift cards to many of the area businesses.
While the idea of coming home with one of these items is intriguing, just about everyone involved in this event comes away a winner.
“When you see what this has become and how everyone does their part,” Mountain Pointe athletic director Ian Moses said, “it is pretty special.”
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