Real men wear pink

By on October 23, 2009

Athletes wear pink socks to support breast cancer awareness
by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Donna Robertson was at a recent Aurora Superstars football game waiting for the game to begin when her sister-in-law said to her, “Isn’t that Tanner out there, wearing pink socks?”

The Elburn resident looked up and saw her 12-year-old son, one of the football team members, walk on the field with a flash of hot pink above his football cleats.

“Aurora Superstar Tanner Robertson is wearing pink socks today for his mom, for Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” she heard the announcer say. [quote]

KHS boys XC

KHS boys XC

“I just started crying,” she said.

Donna was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. She is now considered a survivor, having made it through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

This spring, her 74-year-old mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Donna said she is doing well, and has one more chemotherapy treatment to go. Donna is certain her mom will be a survivor, as well.

KHS Volleyball

KHS Volleyball

Tanner and his dad Mike read in the Elburn Herald about how Kaneland High School athletic staff secretary Linda Kelley bought pink socks and encouraged the Kaneland sports teams to wear them during October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Kelley said she had gotten the idea from the members of the Chicago Bears football team, who have been supporting breast cancer awareness by wearing pink shoes and other items of clothing on the field.

“I thought, ‘If the Bears can do it, we can do it,’” she said.

KHS soccer

KHS soccer

Kelley kept ordering socks and selling out of them until the supplier ran out after sending her more than 400 pairs. Beginning with the volleyball team’s Volley for a Cure event, during which the players wore pink T-shirts, players from every fall athletic team, as well as the band members, cheerleaders, poms and rowdies, have worn pink socks to their games the past couple of weeks.

KHS Football

KHS Football

KHS Cheerleaders

KHS Cheerleaders

During Pink Football Night on Friday, Kelley said she saw students in pink hair spray, pink-painted faces, pink shorts and tights, as well as the infamous pink socks.

“It really took off,” Kelley said.

Mike asked Tanner if he would like to wear the socks during his Aurora Superstars Oct. 10 game, in honor of his mom and grandmother.

“Absolutely,” was Tanner’s response.

When Tanner’s teammates saw his socks, they all wanted to join in. At last Saturday’s game, every member of the Elburn Lions team came onto the football field wearing the pink socks.

KHS girls XC

KHS girls XC

Mike said that anytime he sees a pink button, a sticker, or anything else that tells him other people care, it lifts his spirits and puts a bounce in his step.

“It does make a difference to the people who have to endure this,” he said.

He is proud of his son, for the support he has shown his mom and his grandmother, as well as all of the other team members who participated.

“When I was 11 or 12, you’d have to hold me down to put pink socks on me,” he said. “Here’s a team that wants to wear them. When I saw them all out there on the field on Saturday, it was overwhelming.”

Tanner said that when his mom was first diagnosed, he tried to help her out by being more helpful around the house and not arguing with her. He said he wore the socks not only for his mom and his grandmother, but for everyone else who has been affected by breast cancer. He said it made him feel good that the rest of his team members joined in.

“They all cared,” he said.

Mike said that although for him and his family, the idea of cancer is always there, they would rather do something about it than let it get them down.

bandpink

KHS Band

“I tell Tanner, ‘People are not judged by the things they face in life, but by how they handle them,’” he said.

When Donna regained her strength after her treatment, she joined Kaneville resident and breast cancer survivor Mary Niceley last August in the Susan G. Komen 60-mile breast cancer awareness walk. Altogether, they raised more than $10,000.

“If they find a cure for breast cancer, the rest will follow,” she said. “There will be a cure someday; that’s why we do this.”

KHS Poms

KHS Poms

Top photo: Aurora Superstar player Tanner Robertson (24) of Elburn, whose mom and grandmother both have had breast cancer, inspired his teammates to wear pink socks for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Photo by Susan O’Neill