Boys of Fall: Fundraising football players tackle Sarcoma awareness
The annual Boys of Fall football game this year was all about Sarcoma awareness and “Playing for Ariel.”
Tascha Sampson told the crowd at Saturday’s game, “We’re all family here,” before welcoming Brazil resident, and this year’s honoree, Ariel Michelle Pierce.
Pierce recently completed the second week of chemotherapy treatment for stage 3 Sarcoma, which was diagnosed earlier this year.
“I left the hospital yesterday,” said the young lady. “I’m happy to be here, but this is so emotional. All the boys came over and shook my hand, wishing me well. I just started crying.”
Pierce knows the Clay Youth Football League very well, she used to watch her brothers play on the football field located just north of Brazil at 10350 North Meridian Street.
“It’s like everything comes full circle in life,” Pierce said after being presented the game ball with all the players signatures on it during halftime. “This means a lot to me. This is just so sweet, so wonderful. All these young boys, they are just so sweet.”
Surrounded by the Boys of Fall, Pierce was joined on the field by former cancer survivor honorees Rachel Jones (2013) and India Orman (2016) and cancer survivors Cathy Thompson and Tina Richmond as a flood of yellow balloons representing Sarcoma cancer awareness were released into the bright sky.
Pierce’s cancer story started after early graduation from Northview High School while at a United States Marines boot camp in November 2013. There, she started having a pain in her hip area. Believing it was caused by her pack hitting her hip, Pierce didn’t think much of it until a couple of years later when a growth appeared. It started small, then became the size of a golf ball, and was extremely painful.
Originally doctors diagnosed Pierce with tendinitis, who couldn’t sleep or sit down because of the intense pain. When the MRI was finally completed, that’s when the diagnosis was official.
Doctors immediately scheduled surgery for removal of the thick mass which was approximately six inches in size on Aug. 8. Seeing a section of her hip was gone was a tough moment for the young woman, but the former Marine decided right then and there that “I had something to live for, to fight for.”
Engaged to Christopher Haase, who has two girls Crisda and Camirin, the small family is planning a wedding and life together at their “forever home” in Clay County.
“I’ve lost my hair since we last met. Doing OK, I’m a little dizzy,” Pierce said about the side effects of her treatment, with her fiancé staying close by her side during the event. “But other than that I’m making it.”
This year, Mandy Horn took on a larger role in helping Sampson organize the annual event that raises money to help a local person fighting cancer. During the past four years, the soup dinner, silent auction and other fundraising efforts by the players to help collect funds for the recipient have averaged around $4,000-$5,000, and this year organizers believe the numbers will be in that range again.
For more information on how to support or donate to The Boys of Fall fundraising events, call 812-208-1302.