On Oct. 6 we broke out the winter coats, boots and hats as the Purple Community team traveled to Traverse City for their annual pink game to support breast cancer research at Van Andel Institute. Despite the cold, it was a beautiful evening full of energy and compassion from both Traverse City West and their opponent Cadillac High School.
TC West had been prepping for game day all week by selling t-shirts and Purple Community swag to get the student body excited for the game. At the game, the student section from TC West was a sea of pink (including some interesting bunny suits), while the players left their usual home jerseys in the locker room to suit up in pink ones. Each jersey had a name on the back in honor of a loved one or member of the community who has been on a cancer journey.
As we approached game day Cadillac reached out to Purple Community wanting to join the cause to honor a fellow student, MacKale, who is battling osteosarcoma. Cadillac wore orange jerseys to represent “Team MacKale”. MacKale attended the game and served as the honorary captain for the Vikings. It was a well-played game for both teams, but Traverse City West came out on top on their home field with a final score of 16-14.
Across the state, another story was circulating about Robby Heil, a senior with Down syndrome and Novi High School’s football team’s water-boy, and his mother, Debbie Heil, who has been battling cancer. On Sept. 16, the Novi and South Lyon East coaching staffs came together organizing a plan to get Robby out on the field. With the score tied at 7-7, Robby was able to go in and score a touchdown. Both teams surrounded him in the end zone cheering him on!
Traverse City West heard about Robby’s story, and wanted to do something to honor the Heil’s. At Saturday’s game, two players from TC West, Thor and Odin Soffredine, wore both Robby and Debbie Heil’s names on the back of their jerseys. The team plans to send the jersey’s to Novi to present them to the Robby and Debbie. We were blown away by this incredible gesture from the TC team, how cool? You can check out Robby’s full story here!
The support we received in Northern Michigan was amazing. Thanks for letting us be a part of such a special night!