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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Pushing aside a rivalry to help benefit a good cause

Friday, October 9, 2009

Northview and Clay City volleyball teams came together prior to their match this season to wear pink and sell T-shirts with a portion of the proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. Carey Fox Photo. [Order this photo]
For the past three seasons, two inner-county athletic rivals have put their competitive disdain for each other aside and united their efforts toward raising money for breast cancer awareness.

Since 2007, Northview and Clay City have turned a yearly volleyball game into a grand event.

It started when Kaley Huffman, a 2008 NHS graduate, who said she was looking for a large-scale community service program, came up with the idea of a breast cancer awareness game after discovering the mother of one of her teammates had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Huffman said the team had been looking for a worthwhile project for quite some time and breast cancer awareness seemed like a very worth cause, as it effects so many people in so many walks of life.

In the weeks leading up to the game, both schools sell T-shirts, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a breast cancer awareness organization started by Nancy G. Brinker in 1982, in memory of her sister Susan Komen, who died of breast cancer.

The organization is the largest breast cancer charity in the world and has raised more than a billion dollars in research since its inception.

In addition to the T-shirt sales, the schools run advertisements and send out mass e-mails to locate anyone who wants to take part in a pre-game ceremony where the gym is decorated with streamers, and the girls from each squad stand together in the shape of a pink ribbon. The e-mail seeks out anyone who has survived cancer or anyone who wants to honor the memory of a lost loved one.

Northview volleyball coach Scott McDonald said he has been very impressed with how the event has expanded since it began. This year, he said the girls sold more than 300 T-shirts.

McDonald said a few players on his current roster have had family members who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, while he himself has lost both an aunt and a grandmother to the infliction.

The Knights' coach said he thought the added social meaning to the county rivalry has given the Knights and Eels yearly match-up more meaning.

"(The kids on both sides) take great pride in this endeavor," McDonald said. "(Breast cancer) hits home with everybody and this is a great chance for all of us to give back."

The event also struck a chord with first-year Clay City head coach Cindy Gerber.

Gerber had never seen the breast cancer awareness game prior to this year, but said she was very impressed with the way the two schools, who generally hold no love loss for each other, unite for such a worth cause.

"It's a good cause and it really helps bring two county rivals together," she said.

Gerber, who says she's lost friends to breast cancer, also saw her mother-in-law go through it before going into remission.

"I can't think of another time where Northview and Clay City would come together like this," she said. "It shows a lot of integrity."

While she no longer has a playing stake in the rivalry, Huffman, who is currently playing volleyball at IUPUI, says she takes great pride in helping create such a meaningful game and hoped it would carry on for years to come.

"Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death in America, and there are many people out there fighting for their lives that may not have what they need to pay for whatever it takes to cure it," said Huffman, whose grandmother was diagnosed with bone cancer a few short weeks after the inaugural breast cancer awareness game. "Why not help someone else out while doing something you love?"

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