On September 13, 2019, Red Arrow Memorial Stadium was filled with a sea of pink for Pink Arrow Pride XII. The annual event — which features varsity sports competitions, a survivors’ walk and more — has put Lowell on the map as a community committed to rallying around those affected by cancer.
“No one does it like Lowell,” Teresa Beachum told a crowd at this week’s Christmas Party for Gilda’s Club members. Beachum has been helping organize Pink Arrow Pride since it’s inception and has heard from communities and organizations across the country hoping to replicate Lowell’s success. “Everyone seems to call and ask how we do it,” she said.
Beachum was at the party to hand over a check for $68,000 to Wendy Wigger, president of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. Gilda’s Club has operated a clubhouse in Lowell since 2009, thanks to support from Pink Arrow Pride. It offers a variety of support services to families impacted by cancer, other serious illnesses or the death of a loved one.
In accepting the check, Wigger said she was grateful to the community not only for its financial support, but it’s willingness to step up and help wherever is needed. “We could never do what we do here in Lowell without the support of volunteers,” she explained.
The check to Gilda’s Club was one of the three distributed by Pink Arrow Pride. In total, the organization raised $111,500 for cancer-related support services, and the money was distributed in the following ways:
- Gilda’s Club of Lowell: $68,000
- Lowell Community Wellness Family Support: $40,000
- Kathy Talus and Dr. Donald Gerard Scholarships: $3,500
Pink Arrow Pride is run entirely by volunteers and is committed to ensuring 100% of the money it raises stays in Lowell. It spends no money on administrative costs or overhead.
In 2019, financial grants were provided to 92 local families who have been affected by cancer. The organization’s two college scholarships honor Kathy Talus, a former Lowell teacher and coach who lost her battle with cancer, and Dr. Donald Gerard who has dedicated more than 30 years volunteering and giving care to student athletes.
The annual Pink Arrow event isn’t the only way the community supports Gilda’s Club either. Each year, the staff at Murray Lake Elementary School participate in No Shave November, and students raise money for Gilda’s Club as part of the month.
“The goal for us was to raise $100, and we raised $839,” said Principal Molly Burnett as she presented a check to Wigger. She added that one student raised more than $200 at a church camp over the summer and while he could have donated that money to any worthy cause, he decided to contribute it to the No Shave November fundraiser at Murray Lake Elementary.
Planning is underway for Pink Arrow Pride XIII. The committee is welcoming two new members, Tracy Loughlin and Bryleigh Cook, to lead fundraising. Any community member or company interested in becoming a t-shirt sponsor can contact the fundraising team at [email protected] or by phone at 616-443-1575.