The Middletown High School community will trade in their blue and white gear for all things pink during the second-annual Beat the Beast Cancer Awareness Football Game and Pink Out next week.
The two-time defending state champion Cavaliers football team will set the standard during Friday's game against Delcastle Technical High School by donning pink jerseys emblazoned with the names of cancer patients, survivors and those who have lost their fight with the disease.
Fans, students and school staff also are encouraged to join the effort by purchasing $10 commemorative T-shirts and $1 bracelets in advance of the game with the goal of filling Cavaliers Stadium with a sea of pink.
All proceeds will be donated to Beat the Beast, a Delaware non-profit that raises money for the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and Kay's Kamp, an annual weeklong program for children with cancer held at St. Andrews School.
"While the event is a fundraiser, the real purpose is to make sure those affected by cancer feel the love and support of their community," said co-organizer Denise Burke. "It's a way to show them that we're all on the same mission and we support one another."
HOW DID IT COME ABOUT?
Middletown High Football Coach Mark DelPercio said the event initially began as a conversation he had with Middletown resident Mike Carr during a New Year's Eve celebration in 2011.
"We had just won our first championship game and Mike and I were talking about how a lot of guys on the team were still wearing pink gloves and mouthpieces from Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October," he said. "That's when we thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool if we could do something bigger with that.'"
DelPercio and Carr, an active volunteer with the Beat the Beast organization, agreed to team up and develop the first-of-its-kind event, which kicked off last September.
"When you talk about the game of football, wins are nice, but in the end it's about teaching life lessons," DelPercio said. "We have a job to do on Friday nights, but we also want our players to focus on making an impact in the community so they can learn to become well-rounded young men."
Beat the Beast co-founder Kevin Weaver said the event has quickly proven to be a success, due largely to the tight-knit Middletown community.
"There really are not many places like it in Delaware," he said. "The school, the football team and the community have just been awesome."
WHAT ELSE DOES THE EVENT INVOLVE?
About 60 individuals and families spent $100 to each to sponsor the jersey's that will be worn by the Cavaliers next Friday.
Page 2 of 2 - During a 7 p.m. pre-game ceremony, those sponsors and the players wearing their jersey will walk across the field as information about the person being honored or remembered is announced.
Following the game, each jersey will be presented to its sponsor. The #1 jersey will be presented to the family of Mike Carr, who passed away in August after losing a lengthy battle with colon cancer.
During the game, organizers also will be selling $1 raffle tickets for a pink Middletown High football helmet signed by the Cavaliers team. A second helmet also will be raffled off at the school earlier that day
Several cancer support organizations also will have tables set up at Cavaliers Stadium during the game to provide the community with education and resource materials.