Ellison athletes rallied together and raised funds for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The football and volleyball teams combined for just over $2,000 and presented an oversized check to the Metroplex Health System Foundation on Monday night.

Ellison athletic director and head football coach Todd Wright decided to challenge his student-athletes off the field and court, a tradition he started after his family was personally affected by breast cancer.

“A couple years ago, my wife and I had to deal with a breast cancer scare,” he explained. “And during her second surgery we were in the room with some other women in recovery and I just asked them, ‘What can I do to help?’

“I told them I was a coach and asked them what could kids do? Most of them said they liked the month of pink but they didn’t think the kids understood the meaning and that it was more of a fashion statement than it was helping anybody out.”

While schools across the state wear pink throughout October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Wright decided after speaking with those women that if his team wanted to wear pink on game day they needed to make a real impact in the community first.

“So we started this in Houston with The Rose, which helped low-income families in our area at Waltrip High School,” he said. “And our kids here bought into it and we didn’t have any issues so we said we cannot wear pink unless we make a donation and help somebody first.”

Every season, head volleyball coach Sarah Stolley and her team aim to complete a community service project. After hearing Wright speak at a coaches in-service about the bigger message of Pink Out games, his wife’s story really resonated with her.

“Our coaches and I first decided to look for a mammogram bus, but there’s none of those in our community,” Stolley said. “So we did our research. We wanted to do something local and we found the Metroplex Foundation.”

Together, the student-athletes raised $2,085 to contribute to the foundation, which provides free mammograms every Friday. “So we asked if we could help donate to that fund,” Stolley said.

For a some of the students, the cause hit close to home.

“Breast cancer runs in my family, unfortunately,” said senior wide receiver Andrew Long. “And it really hits home when breast cancer awareness comes up because my grandma, my mom, they had to go through it and are going through it.

“I’m pleased to say some of them have survived but just having the team come together to donate money for breast cancer awareness — from early detection to mammograms for people who can’t afford it — it means a lot.”

The student-athletes presented the check to the foundation’s director, TaNeika Moultrie, who spoke to the teams about the importance of awareness and how the money they donated would be used.

“This is excellent,” said Moultrie of the fundraising efforts. “My heart is just so overjoyed because sometimes the young people don’t realize the impact that they make.

“This is just by far one of the greatest acts of kindness that I have seen in a very long time.”

And while this is the first year the Eagles have done such a community service project, Stolley knows the competitive spirit of the student-athletes and believes that this is only just the beginning of a new tradition.

“I think next year is going to be even bigger and better,” said Stolley. “Because next year the girls are going to want to beat the boys.

“And now that we have a base and foundation to donate to, it’s going to be even better next year, but we’re so proud of the efforts of all our kids.”

fcardenas@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7562

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