LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — Ten years ago, Lowell football head coach Noel Dean had an idea to start raising money and awareness of cancer.
It started with a football game where his team wore pink jerseys and giving the fan 1,000 donated pink thunder sticks to make the stadium become a sea of pink. In the first year of Pink Arrow Pride, $93,000 was raised by donations and the community.
Since then, it has grown into a larger annual event, including soccer and volleyball games.
“It’s actually grown a lot, it’s really grown up,” said senior quarterback David Kruse. “I was here for the very first one when my brother played in it. It started out as just a game raising money but now it’s blossomed into this huge community event where we have soccer games, volleyball games and a football game, and it’s really cool being a part of it.”
“This week is really special, we’re not just playing for each other, we’re not playing for our teammates or ourselves, we’re playing for the name on our back, we’re playing for someone else,” Kruse said. “It’s kind of a big deal. It teaches us not to be selfish and to do things for other people, so it’s a big week.”
Dean also noted what a spectacle the event has become since getting started in 2008.
“It’s just been an amazing feature of our community over the last 10 years, a credit to all the people that have put it on and the kids that get to be a part of it,” Dean said. “More importantly, the awareness to cancer and most importantly, the support we’ve given to families that have been going through that journey within their own family structure.”
His teams have treasured being a part of the tradition.
“Our ability to be a small part of it is very awe-inspiring and it’s truly a grassroots movement that our community has embraced, it’s very exciting,” Dean said.
This year, football will get to kick off Pink Arrow Pride.
“I’m really excited about being the team to kick off the whole thing. We’re going to play hard, we get to play somebody other than ourselves Friday night which is ultimately what we’re trying to teach kids anyways in this environment about selflessness and the greater good.”
When it comes to the game, Dean is anticipating a high-octane atmosphere. He said Friday’s game is about having fun and doing something for other people, and the result of the game isn’t the most important thing happening on the field.
“I would anticipate Friday night being electric,” Dean said. “You have an undefeated East Grand Rapids playing an undefeated Lowell in the Pink Arrow Game. That’s a pretty good recipe for enthusiasm and high school football at its finest and playing for all the right reasons.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday in Lowell.