Before the first whistle blew, ten individuals stood side-by-side at center field in Fauver Stadium.
At the edge of the turf on the sidelines, the UR and RPI football teams stood respectfully on the the white lines.
The seniors from each team stepped forward, approaching midfield, and gave each of the ten individuals—people from both schools who are all either cancer survivors or in the midst of battling cancer—a pink rose.
The ceremony, held during UR’s Saturday football game against RPI, marked both the first Liberty League home game of the season and the first ever Tackle Cancer game to promote awareness of and raise money for research on breast cancer.
“We always wear pink [for breast cancer awareness] during October, but we wanted to give it more meaning besides just the color with our uniform,” senior wide receiver Kenny Kish said. “This is something that has touched all of us in one way or another, whether it is a family member or friend having cancer.”
The all-day affair began with a 9 a.m. tailgate on the Fraternity Quad, which offered free food and set the scene for the game that began just after noon.
All attendees of both the tailgate and the game were encouraged to wear pink to show their support for the cause, and the coaches for both sides were given pink t-shirts. Additional shirts were for sale to all attendees.
RPI earned the victory over UR 51–13, but Kish says that the importance of the event was not centered around competition.
“Both teams understand that there’s something that’s a lot bigger than football,” Kish said.
Along with being a member of UR Football and the team’s Leadership Council, Kish is also the co-president of UR Relay for Life, a club under the American Cancer Society that hosts an all-night fundraising event each spring.
Kish became passionate about cancer awareness after his mother passed away during his sophomore year at the University.
“I wanted to make as big as a positive impact as I can on this campus to show those who have battled and are currently battling breast cancer that we’re here to support them, as well as to support the goal of finding a cure one day,” the senior said.
True to Kish’s word, UR has made a difference.
Last year, the Relay for Life branch here fundraised $38,000—and the football team was the biggest contributor of the year, raising $9,400, all through word-of-mouth and social media advertising.
Other UR sports teams have participated in similar events to support charitable causes.
The softball team has a yearly t-shirt sale to “Strike Out Cancer.” Each September, the field hockey team plays in a CURE Cancer game in support of pediatric cancer awareness month. Each member of both teams competing donates $5 to the CURE Childhood Cancer Association, and, in return, wears a pair of gold shoelaces.
“On college campuses and just in general, sports and athletics are really in the media and paid attention to,” senior field hockey midfielder Tiffany White said. “When a team supports a cause, it sheds more light on it and how that it’s important.”
Similar to UR Football, the field hockey team will be hosting a breast cancer awareness game for the first time at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23 against St. Lawrence University.
The support of charitable causes by UR sports teams is growing, and looks to continue to expand into the future.
And although Saturday’s Liberty League matchup did not end up in favor of the ‘Jackets, the game achieved its larger purpose.
“We’re hoping to make the awareness event become the first home game of October every year,” Kish said.