Lowell — Lowell High School cross-country team co-captain Paul Fowler sees the impact a simple gesture, like serving spaghetti, breadsticks and desserts, can have on people touched by cancer.
Paul, a junior, joined his team in dishing out a hearty meal to Gilda’s Club members during Supper Together Tuesday evening. Twice a month, student athletes serve food at the organization’s Lowell Clubhouse. Gilda’s Club is a free emotional health support community for people impacted by cancer or grieving a death due to any cause.
Paul said he is glad his team is stepping up.
“It helps the community know people our age care and want to help out,” he said.
Lowell students have always heard the message that everyone can make a difference, thanks to a signature fall event that turns the high school football field into a sea of pink.
“Before Lowell started playing for a cause, no one played for a cause.”– Pink Arrow Pride spokesperson Teresa Beachum
Pink Arrow Pride has raised money to support Lowell families who are affected by cancer for the past 16 years. Its ripple effects are found in efforts throughout the community, such as students serving dinner in support.
“We grew up with Pink Arrow our whole lives,” said junior Olivia Seevers, who served pasta at Supper Together alongside her twin sister and teammate Lauren.
Uniting for a Cause
Started by former Lowell High School football coach Neal Dean and dedicated volunteers in 2008, the Pink Arrow event is when the Lowell Red Arrows football team dons bubblegum-pink jerseys and plays for the cause. On the backs of those jerseys are names of people in their lives who have been affected by cancer.
The tradition continues tonight, with the Pink Arrow football game at 7 p.m. against Greenville at Lowell High School.
Teresa Beachum, an original volunteer with her husband, Perry, said Pink Arrow began because Dean wanted to start a game for a cause. He and other volunteers chose cancer, and pink was the color most associated with the disease.
It wasn’t long before it became more than a football game. The cross-country, soccer and volleyball teams got involved. Area businesses contributed. The community united around Pink Arrow and it raised $93,000 in its first year. It continues to raise a minimum of $100,000 each year with proceeds distributed among Gilda’s Club Lowell, the Dr. Gerard and Kathy Talus scholarships and contributions to individual families.
The inaugural event also ignited a spark that has spread throughout Michigan.
“Before Lowell started playing for a cause, no one played for a cause,” Beachum said. “This was a new phenomenon and a new teachable moment that our coaches felt they wanted to impact their student athletes with.”
During its first few years, the district received inquiries about how Lowell got their game started. The district held a daylong seminar and 200 people attended from across the state to learn how to start their own programs.
In 2009 the community met its goal of raising money toward renovating a building that would become the home to the Gilda’s Club Lowell Clubhouse as another way to support local families.
“This community keeps supporting this cause,” Beachum said. “Our small town, they walk the walk.”