For Hotchkiss senior Gratia Fisher, singing The Star-Spangled Banner ahead of Saturday's varsity volleyball game against Meeker was a little more challenging than most of her past performances. Not only was it the final game of the regular volleyball season, and possibly her final home game as a volleyball player, Fisher and her teammates had just distributed 50 light pink long-stemmed roses to people in the stands whose lives have been affected by cancer as part of the team's Dig Deep, Dig Pink volleyball breast cancer benefit.
"I felt my heart beating faster than normal," said Fisher, a senior at HHS. When people in the stands were asked to raise their hand if they or their families had been affected by cancer, dozens of hands went up, and 50 roses were handed out. "I was surprised. I didn't know it affected so many people in the community."
As she sang the national anthem, "I was hoping they felt the words like I usually do."
Volleyball teams across the state are encouraged by the Colorado High School Activities Association to hold a fundraiser during October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Volleyball moms Amy Collins, Teresa Wrich, Ginger Fisher, Toni Deluzio and others organized the event. The intent was to honor survivors of breast cancer, those fighting cancer, and those who have lost loved ones to cancer, said Collins.
Proceeds from the event, including donations and money taken for a bake sale and concession stand, came to $1,005, which the team voted to donate to Delta County Memorial Hospital's Grand Mesa Oncology Center in Delta, said Wrich.
Drawings for prizes were held during timeouts and between games, and those purchasing tickets were given opportunities to serve volleyballs. The opposite side of the court was dotted with water bottles and other pink prizes. Anyone hitting a prize got to keep it.
Prize donations came from Arch CO Customs, Karen Lacey and the Town Crier. The Hotchkiss Flower Shop and Paonia Flower Shop helped with the roses. T-shirts, custom made for the event by 1440 Image Apparel in Delta, sold out before the first volleyball was served.
The team found time between practices and school to make and distribute posters.
Organizers gave a huge shout-out to the Meeker players, parents and coaches. "On a Saturday afternoon, and with a visiting team from so far away, this was an epic outcome," said Collins. "It really was an amazing afternoon."
Collins and Wrich, who both have freshmen players on the team, said they plan to grow the event a little more each year in the coming years.