Area schools raise cancer awareness with Volley for the Cure

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Volley for the Cure has been an event held at area high schools during volleyball season for many years. Pontiac Township High School has actually held two such events this season, with the second, and perhaps the one considered the main, taking place on Monday night.

The Indians defeated Dwight in the actual game. But the activities that took place in the commons were of equal importance as this is where money was raised to help fight cancer.

Junior varsity coach Ashtin Edwards, who along with freshman coach Kristina Brunner and head coach Kristen Hinz are in charge of the event, said team members and coaches at all the levels have filled cards with the name of a person affected by cancer in honor of whom they will play.

The names of these people were inscribed on ribbons and displayed in the commons.

“When we filled out the ribbons last week for the girls, it was pretty amazing how many girls had someone close to them who they wrote for who they played for, whether it was a family member, a close friend or a teacher they had had,” Edwards said. “It was amazing how seriously they took it and who they play for.”

Volley for the Cure began at Pontiac Township High over ten years ago under the guidance of a teacher at the time who had suffered from breast cancer.

“When I think of Volley for the Cure, I think of Joanne Mullen,” said Eric Bohm, director of PTHS. “She really led the whole event. I know she is an angel right now who looks down on this and is proud of everyone involved and all the effort that goes into it.

Mullen beat cancer in the first round, but lost a battle to it in 2018. She was always upbeat and put a lot of hard work and effort into the Volley for the Cure program.

A person places a bid for a silent auction basket.  The silent auction was part of the activities taking place during the Volley for the Cure event at the PTHS on Monday, October 17.

As for fundraising, there was a bake sale and a 50/50 raffle, like what happened last week when Pontiac held a Volley for the Cure for the Illini Prairie Conference. But added to this one, where a Livingston County school was the opponent, there was a silent auction that included items such as gift baskets with various items including gift cards for businesses local.

In the past, the money raised during the event did not leave the county. The Susan G. Komen Organization, formerly the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, received the money raised at such events. But the organizers of the Pontiac event opted for something different.

“We wanted it to stay local, that way it will reach those affected here,” Edwards said. She noted that the area’s recipients are the Livingston County Cancer Society.

“It’s huge for our county,” Bohm added. “We have a higher cancer rate here, from what I understand. I think they learned a lot from that too, and they wanted to make sure it stayed here.

“We want to give back to our community, so I appreciate everything they do.”

Other schools in the area have held a Volley for the Cure Night, including Flanagan-Cornell recently, which was the 15e annual Volley for the Cure event for the Falcons.

Community members admire donations for the Volley for the Cure raffle held recently at Flanagan-Cornell High School.

Jill Harrison, event coordinator, said community members and the volleyball program donated 62 baskets that were raffled off. She also said there were three items that were part of a silent auction. T-shirts and gondola sandwiches were also sold to raise funds.

“During the game, the survivors were honored and were also able to enter the game for free,” Harrison noted. “There was a moment of silence for those lives that were lost to cancer.”

As is customary for virtually all participating teams, whether as host or visiting school, the uniforms reflected support for cancer survivors and the search for a cure by being different shades of pink or base in black or white with a pink logo.

Harrison also pointed out that Flanagan-Cornell team captains Kortney Harms and Grace Zimmerman read a poem – “What Cancer Cannot Do” – before the lineups were announced.

Flanagan-Cornell students have long been active in such causes and have not hesitated to organize such events with enthusiasm. Harrison said the gymnasium was decorated in pink and pink bracelets, pencils, scarves and beads were given out.

“I’ve never really seen an event for Volley for the Cure as big as ours, which is a privilege,” said Harms, whose mother is a former volleyball coach at Flanagan-Cornell. “It also allows us to play better, because we know it’s just not for us!”


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