September is a couple of seasons away but those involved with coordinating the Pink Arrow game are busy throughout the year. A little more than a month ago, the $126,500 which was raised last fall was distributed to community organizations and scholarships which help support individuals and families who have or are currently battling any form of cancer.
Following the Distribution Trail
But what happens once funds are disbursed and how is the money used? Pink Arrow gives money each year for two scholarships. The Dr. Gerard scholarship is awarded to college students in the medical field or high school seniors taking a medical direction in college. The Kathy Talus scholarship recipients are student athletes going on to college. The contribution given to Gilda’s Club in Lowell stays in the community through programs and activities which help those dealing with cancer along with their families.
And finally, Lowell Community Wellness receives money for family support and an education fund. The education fund portion is used as grant money accessible to teachers for promotion of health and wellness. A past recipient of a portion of these funds was Cherry Creek’s Dan Lipon to help with his coordination of family fitness day. The family support portion given to Lowell Community Wellness is used to provide direct financial support for cancer patients living within the Lowell Area School District.
Sending Applications, Securing Sponsors
January marks the beginning of Lowell Community Wellness’ effort to send out applications to those who may need financial support. They first reach out to those who have been helped in the past. Applicants receive a gift of $500 in the form of a Meijer gift card or a debit card provided by River Valley Credit Union. An applicant can receive up to three gifts over the course of three years. Already in 2017 over 20 people have been helped. In 2015 this gift was given to 84 people and in 2016 a total of 82 were recipients. All of these people live in the Lowell community and no one seeking this gift has ever been turned away.
Teresa Beachum and Ethel Stears work on family support efforts and sponsors for the upcoming game. Each year sponsorship seen on the back of t-shirts pays the cost of the shirt and printing. This means 100% of the funds from people purchasing a shirt goes to the Pink Arrow cause.
In March, Beachum will begin approaching families for their Family Perseverance stories. Three families each week during the month of July share how cancer has become part of their lives. In May or June work will begin on this year’s logo.
Pink Arrow also receives donations from businesses and other organizations throughout the year. Main Street BBQ sets aside $1.00 for every nacho appetizer sold and donates approximately $600 each quarter to the Pink Arrow Project. They also hosted a BBQ competition last fall with money raised given to the project.
Greenridge Realty has put on Pinknic for the past three years as a means to raise money. Mi Hometown Furnishings will be donating a portion of their first month’s proceeds to support Pink Arrow’s. All Weather Seal has been a sponsor of Pink Arrow’s Community Day for several years. They also donate $1 for each shirt purchased during this event.
Michigan Blood’s drive during Community Day is the biggest in West Michigan. Typically around 80 pints of blood are received in just one day. For every person who fills out paperwork to donate, regardless of whether they’re able to actually donate in the end, they give $10 to Gilda’s Club in Lowell. This year’s Community Day sponsors are All Weather Seal, Harold Zeigler, and Alto Area Storage. The event will take place along the Riverwalk on Thursday, August 17.
Proceeds from the Laughfest event in Lowell are given to Gilda’s Club and remain within the community. This year’s event is at Grand Volute on March 10 at 7pm. Comedian Keith Alberstadt will entertain audience members. Tickets are $22.50 each and are available for purchase at Springrove Variety.
Restaurants participating in food row during the Pink Arrow game donate 20% of their proceeds to the booster club. Last year Honey Creek Inn not only participated in food row, they also purchased a pig from the 4H fair which was processed and used in food options available during the game. Keiser’s Kitchen remains after other vendors are gone in order to provide food for athletes, coaches, trainers, and cheerleaders from both teams playing in the game.
Celebrating 10 Years
This year’s Pink Arrow game will also be a celebration marking its 10th year. Special surprises are sure to pop up along the way as the planning continues. One fun thing already in the works is a raffle of four reclining chairs. Tickets will be available for purchase at Mi Hometown Furnishings, once their doors are open, for $10/ticket. Two winners, each with a guest, will be selected to watch the game in these comfy seats and then take them home after the game!
Noel Dean’s idea a decade ago has turned into inspiration not only in the Lowell community but around the country. Schools from a number of states have inquired about how to start a program and how it has been so successful in such a small community. Teresa Beachum knows. “We never have to work on the pride factor in this community.” she explains. Football fan or not, the people of Lowell and the surrounding area know how to come together to recognize and support their neighbors.
Mark Your Calendar
This year’s Pink Arrow game, where Lowell will be hosting East Grand Rapids, will take place on Friday, September 8. It’s not only the efforts of the football team which support Pink Arrow. Volleyball and soccer are also played to raise funds and awareness. Gates open at 3pm with activities leading up to the game. Over 10 thousand people are once again expected to pack the stadium in support of Pink Arrow Pride.