Pink on the court for cancer support
Lisa Ledwell has one more medical bridge to cross — reconstructive surgery — before her recovery from breast cancer is complete.
But she knows the same God, Triad Baptist Church family, and friends who got her through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy will step with her through this part of her cancer journey, too.
That circle of support widened further Jan. 29.
The Triad Baptist Christian Academy Titans and Triad Baptist Church’s Harbor of Hope cancer support and Radiate high school ministries made Ledwell the beneficiary of their first “Pink Out” cancer outreach fundraiser.
She isn’t sure yet what she and her husband, Jeff, will do with the $600 raised from half of the gate proceeds and contributions put in a tennis shoe passed during the game. But she said they plan to put it to good use.
“It’s my nature to give and not receive but I so appreciate the gift, and hope this event gets bigger every year to the point that the game can support agencies like Cancer Services that I know do such a great job in Forsyth County,” Ledwell said. “I think what they are starting with ‘Pink Out’ is great because how many people do you talk to every day who have not been touched by cancer in some way?”
Triad member Michael Bowers, who coaches the Titans boys basketball team, and assistant coach and Triad faculty member Ronnie Kruger began planning the “Pink Out” event last fall as part of Coaches vs. Cancer Suits & Sneakers week Jan. 25-31. National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) members partner with the American Cancer Society to coach games in their sneakers to help boost awareness of the disease.
“Since Coach Kruger and I were getting information from the NABC about this event months in advance, we sat down and discussed what a great opportunity it would be for us to make an impact on those suffering from cancer within our Triad family and community,” Bowers said.
Adding Triad’s Lead Pastor Rob Decker, Radiate High School Ministry Pastor Jared Hoots, and Harbor of Hope Co-Chairs Terry Corns and Diane Pearson on board, plans for the game quickly fell into place, and Athletic Director Robbie Mansfield took it from there.
The “Pink Out” cancer awareness night brought cancer ribbons for fans, face tattoos, cancer awareness-themed giveaways of T-shirts, backpacks, tumblers, headbands and shoelaces, and special halftime recognition for cancer survivors including the first public showing of the video telling Ledwell’s story, and a message by Hoots. The women honored got pink carnations, and the men, bookmarks, from Radiate members.
When Hoots scanned the bleachers and asked people to stand if they had been affected by cancer, nearly all rose from their seats. He closed the program with a prayer of dedication.
“I was honored to be a part of this event,” said Hoots, who used the scripture Hebrews 12:1-2 to encourage the crowd to keep their focus on Jesus Christ as they each run the race set before them and to draw strength from the eternal life and hope He offers amid cancer battles.
“There were a lot of people at the game who have been affected by cancer, and it was awesome to be able to share with them how Jesus is greater than cancer,” he said. “Everything about this event exceeded our expectations, and hopefully, this can be something that we can do on an annual basis.”
Corns said “Pink Out” was a team effort he hopes will also swell the ranks of Harbor of Hope and its ministry which meets the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in Triad’s Youth Room.
“It was also nice to have an event blending the Academy and Church ministries in a community outreach for a dreadful disease that affects everyone directly or indirectly,” he said.
The event’s impact wasn’t lost on the Titans players who squared off against the High Point Eagles. “It was motivating because there were a lot more people at the game to cheer us on, and we wore cancer awareness socks,” said Titans player Nathan Johnson. “It felt really good.”
In addition to those from his own players, Bowers heard countless other stories about the experience from fans of both teams. Until seeing him on the court at halftime with his son, he didn’t know one of High Point’s own assistants was just coming off of a major cancer battle.
Bowers added that he knows of at least one instance where the experience softened the heart of a fan who said they had become calloused about attending church, and felt inspired by what they had witnessed at Triad.
“For Triad to be able to reach these families in their time of suffering is only a small portion of what we can do to show Christ’s love in our church, our school, and our community,” Bowers said. “It also teaches our students and children that life is more than sports. We are fighting to win a game on Friday night while some people are fighting for their life every day.”