Pink Viking Game Scores a Big Win for Cancer Patients
Imagine going to a football game and not only cheering on your favorite team, but also a loved one who has experienced a cancer diagnosis. This show of support is what the annual Pink Viking football game in Jackson, Michigan is all about. For five years running, the Jackson High School Vikings football team have donned pink jerseys emblazoned with the names of community members who have struggled with cancer.
This special initiative is spearheaded by Jackson High School football coach Scott Farley, who first conceived of the fundraiser after his college roommate – Todd Jager – passed away following a bout with brain cancer and leaving behind a young family.
Profoundly impacted by Todd’s resilience, and a desire to involve his players in giving back to the community, coach Farley launched the Pink Viking Project, which aims to honor cancer survivors, to remember loved ones who have passed and to support those experiencing cancer in the Jackson community.
Each fall season the Pink Viking Project hosts a football game that raises funds for the Cancer Patient Immediate Needs Fund at Henry Ford Allegiance Health – which has served more than 900 families since its launch in 2013.
Game attendees purchase a Pink Viking Project t-shirt, which serves as admission to the big game. Additionally, in a moving tribute, prior to the big game community members can also purchase pink football jerseys that display the name of a loved one, whether they are a cancer survivor, or someone who lost their battle with the disease. The jerseys are worn by the players during the game and returned afterwards.
The Pink Viking game raises several thousand dollars each year, and those jerseys and t-shirts also drum up awareness and encouragement for cancer patients to keep fighting. There is a beautiful ceremony before the game that features a walk on the track to honor all cancer victims and survivors, which coach Farley calls “a night of respect and honor.” By wearing the name of a local loved one, the players honor their battle and show a commitment to a cause that’s bigger than themselves.
Thus far, the project has raise more than $35,000 total for the Cancer Patient Needs Fund, which helps to cover all kinds of needs for families struggling through cancer – be it insurance copays, mortgage, transportation or even groceries.
“What really separates the Pink Viking Project is that all the money stays here and supports local families that are in active cancer treatment. You can see your dollars at work,” says coach Farley.
And the kicker? This year the Jackson Vikings won their game against the Lincoln High Railsplitters, with a final score of 49-13. That being said, certainly the Jackson families served by Henry Ford Allegiance Health are the real winners. Go Vikings!