Giles volleyball observes “Dig Pink” for cancer awareness
PEARISBURG – Hundreds of Giles High School fans packed the school’s gymnasium Tuesday, most wearing pink, to raise breast cancer awareness and support the Lady Spartans volleyball teams.
The pink-out event is part of the non-proft Side-Out Foundation’s, a non-profit, Dig Pink National Breast Cancer Awareness Rally which is hosted during the month of October at thousands of middle school, high school and college volleyball games nationwide.
Dig Pink events encourage volleyball players, coaches and community members to promote breast health education and raise funds to help further breast cancer research.
But Giles students and community members took the night a step further when they decided to dedicate the game and festivities to recent Giles alumnus Wesley Ferrell.
Ferrell, who graduated in June, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in February and underwent two rounds of chemotherapy before the tumor in his right leg claimed the limb just days after graduation.
Before the game, Whitney Matlock, Giles’ varsity volleyball coach reminded the crowd of the reasons the event was taking place and spoke about what Ferrell’s battle has meant to his former classmates and the community.
“His courage and attitude throughout this ordeal is an example for each of us to use as we face our lives,” Matlock said. “He is an inspiration to all his friends, classmates, teachers and family.”
Ferrell began 30 additional weeks of chemo on Monday, Matlock said, and couldn’t make it to Tuesday night’s event. Although he was unable to be there, Ferrell had written a statement for the crowd.
Josh Ferrell, Ferrell’s brother, told the crowd reading the statement would be difficult for him and asked the audience to bear with him as told them what his brother had to say.
Josh said Ferrell wanted to thank the Lady Spartans and everyone in attendance for their support as he battles cancer and informed them he was currently going through chemo, but was there in spirit.
“Tonight, the donations will go to research and together we’re going to find a cure,” Ferrell wrote. “Maybe one day we will say we played a small part in that and we’ll live in a world that is cancer-free.”
Giles Principal Jason Mills said Ferrell is “as fine a young man as you’ll ever meet.” It’s evident that Ferrell had impacted students and he was glad to see they hadn’t forgotten him, Mills added.
“Our school was able to support him last year as he went through the ordeal and even support him now as he continues to go through it,” Mills said. “He’s a really big part of tonight’s Dig Pink event.”
In addition to their former classmate, each Giles volleyball players dedicated their game to individuals who had fought cancer, or are currently fighting the disease.
Mills said the event was a great opportunity for students, parents and community members to come together and support a cause that’s “near and dear” to a lot of their hearts.
“Obviously, this is the largest crowd we’ve had all year and it goes to show the community is supporting our team and the cause of Dig Pink and breast cancer research,” Mills said.
Event Coordinator Ellen Hawks said the idea for Giles’ Dig Pink event began several years ago when Tuesday night’s opponent, Auburn High School, invited them to play at their event.
“Last year, we loved it so much that we thought we should do one, too,” Hawks said. “It’s a reciprocal thing; we play them on their night and they play us on our night.”
In addition to gate admission for the volleyball game, fans could purchase t-shirts, items from a bake sale and concessions. Matlock said the event raised about $5,800.
Carilion Giles Community Hospital mammography techs were at the game to show off their digital mammography machine, the only one of its kind in the area, and explain the history of mammograms.
Kimberly Tamminen, Mammographer and Ultrasound Tech said the techs were there to explain to young girls the importance of recognizing an abnormality and knowing that it’s okay to seek help.
Although Giles lost in the final set, Mills said he believed the event at Giles High was a success and was glad to see the community and school come together in the way they did, like they always do.
“It allows us to stop a second and think that the school is not only teaching our children about reading, writing and math, but also about service to each other,” Mills said.
“It makes me really proud to look out and see the kids are out here supporting this.”
The Roanoke Times | 381-8627
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