Strike Out Cancer Softball Gameby Amy Wenger on April 30, 2014
It's a stark and sobering statistic...there is an increasing number of families facing the challenges and struggles of watching a loved one navigate the arduous uphill climb in surviving with cancer. For those individuals who wish for the day that cures for such a ravaging disease become a reality, that desire is more than a prospect of hope - it is a personal crusade.
Such was the mission behind a recent competition between the Bremen High School girls softball squad and the visiting Fairfield team. On Tuesday, April 22, the players fought for more than an athletic victory beneath the sunny skies of Pfeiffer Field, but also for the enhancement of awareness to the epidemic of cancer in all of its forms. "Strike Out Cancer" was the enduring theme throughout the contest between the Lions and the Falcons, with the girls wearing shirts of various colors in support of the cause. Each shade represented a specific type of cancer, and the girls were very successful in raising funds from the presale of shirts, which will benefit the local organization known as Camp Kesem. More than 260 shirts were sold prior to the game.
"Camp Kesem is a free, week long summer camp at Notre Dame for children who have been affected by a parent's cancer," explained Beth Huppert, whose husband, Mike is the head coach. "Camp Kesem recognizes and embraces this often overlooked population of children. Because they don't appear sick, their needs are often overlooked. Camp Kesem has given these children the opportunity to just be kids."
Junior Rachael Czarnecki was one of many players for whom cancer has had an intensely profound impact. She was playing in honor and celebration of the life of her grandmother, who has been afflicted with several types of cancer. "My grandma's had three types of cancer - she's had breast cancer, colon cancer, and skin cancer," Czarnecki shared. "This, for me, is something that's always really important, just to show her that my team cares about her, and that I care about her, is something that is really awesome. It's not just telling her that I care, it's showing her that I care. And our team is doing it for her, too."
One of the featured guests of the evening was Bremen High School Industrial Arts teacher Keith Board, whose story has touched countless students, staff, family, and friends, as he wages his own battle with prostate cancer. Board's presence at the game visibly energized the crowd and the players as well, as he tossed a ball around in a few rounds of catch, snapped various photographs of the team in action, and ceremoniously threw out the first pitch. Board also donned a light blue shirt, the color designated to represent his particular form of cancer.
Members of the 2014 Bremen Lions girls softball team include juniors Brooke Fitch, Sabrina Gilley, Breann Wilson, and Rachael Czarnecki; sophomores Lindsay Miller, Micaela Box, Emily Molden, Chelsea Huppert, Shelby Zellmer, and Jessica Gall; and freshman Shannon Arndt. Mike Huppert is the head coach, assisted by Tabby Teall, Jenni Andrews, Jon Hershberger, and Dean Huppert.