The Woodland Christian High School (WCHS ) girls’ volleyball team – the Lady Cardinals – raised $2,068 for Albie Aware at their annual emotion-packed fundraiser!
From raising awareness to raising funds
The event has grown over five years from raising awareness with a “pink” game, to selling $200 worth of cupcakes, to making significant dollar contributions.
“I was inspired by the Dig Pink fundraiser held by an opposing team when I was coaching in Ohio,” says Head Volleyball Coach Karen Gellen. “Survivors were honored and everyone’s awareness of the disease, including my own, was heightened by the event. From that moment, I knew I wanted do something to help spread awareness and honor survivors.”
Recognizing those affected by breast cancer
During the event, the players invite survivors or those undergoing treatment to the gym where they are recognized. “There were ten this year,” Karen says.
The girls bring a rose for each survivor or current patient as they are introduced and they run up the bleachers where they are sitting to honor them with a rose.
“It really moves you to see how many people just in our small community are impacted by this disease,” says Karen. “It’s amazing.”
Parents are a valuable part of the team
Jeana Pipkin, who is very involved as the parent of a player, managed the event. “She does a phenomenal job organizing the event,” says Karen. Jeana is also a busy attorney.
Keri Frank-Fuentes, the parent of a player and cancer survivor herself, says, “It is awesome that the girls are being exposed at this young age for the need for regular checkups. By giving out the roses, they become acutely aware that this is close to them.
It is powerful to see the number of people who are close to you affected by this. My daughter’s grandmother had been honored in the past, and this year it was both of us.”
The girls see women with strength and hope who have beaten breast cancer. Survivors to warriors! I was so fortunate to be diagnosed early. We fought through this!”
Volleyball is coach Gellen’s middle name
Karen Gellen, a Davis resident, has been coaching volleyball for 17 years, eight at WCHS. She also has her own volleyball club – Legacy Volleyball Academy – to support Woodland Christian players who want to play in the offseason.
“This is who I am – volleyball,” she says. “My two sons are 21 and 24 now and they don’t know their mom without volleyball.”
Scoring against breast cancer
“I’ve had a lot of friends and acquaintances who have been impacted by this disease,” says Karen. “I’ve seen first-hand how it affects people’s lives and if I can play a small part to make people aware of how prevalent this is… it’s a win.”