Many football fans have noticed how NFL teams have honored Breast Cancer Awareness month each October by the amount of pink they’ve seen on their televisions.
This month, get ready to see a lot of pink on Western New York’s high school sidelines as well.
The WNY Football Bill-ieve Challenge, a collaborative effort by the Buffalo Bills, the Erie County Medical Center and ADPRO Sports, debuts this weekend at several high school games.
Pink gear donated by ADPRO Sports goes to schools that pledge to raise funds that go entirely to support Erie County Medical Center’s Mobile Mammography Unit, a coach bus-sized vehicle equipped with two digital mammography systems.
The schools that raise the most money at their October home games – and other events – will receive prizes from the Buffalo Bills.
The gear that teams and fans will be sporting at home games in October include pink towels, headbands, wristbands, bracelets, hair ribbons for cheerleaders, pom-poms, T-shirts and hats – even pink “eye-black” stickers for players.
The school that raises the most money in October will receive a game-day experience at the Bills-Dolphins game on Dec. 22 at Ralph Wilson Stadium, including tickets, an on-field presentation and other items. The second-place school gets a special appearance by Buffalo Bills running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. The third-place school wins ADPRO gear for its team and school.
Winners will be announced Nov. 12.
More information is available at a Bill-lieve page via buffalobills.com and through a letter the initiative sent to schools.
Among the games this weekend that will feature fund-raising is the Class AA showdown of Orchard Park at Lancaster at 7:30 tonight; the ECMC Mobile Mammography Unit will be on hand at Foyle-Kling Field as Lancaster is participating in the event.
ECMC’s mobile unit is described as “designed to take screening services to women who otherwise would not have access to this type of health care.” The letter sent to schools for the WNY Bill-ieve Football Challenge states that in the year-plus that the mobile unit has been on the road, more than 1,400 women have been screened for breast cancer, more than 100 were flagged for more extensive testing, and in two cases women were diagnosed with breast cancer.
Among the other schools involved are: Alden, Bishop Timon-St. Jude, Canisius, Clarence, Depew, Hamburg, St. Francis, St. Joe’s, St. Mary’s, Springville, Sweet Home, West Seneca East, West Seneca West, Williamsville East and all seven Buffalo Public Schools teams: Burgard, Bennett, East, Riverside, McKinley, Hutch-Tech and South Park.
Some games that will feature plenty of pink and major fund-raising are among some of the top rivalry games, including West Seneca East at West Seneca West next week in Week Six (Friday, Oct. 11) and Lancaster at Depew in Week Seven (Friday, Oct. 18).
The Saturday, Oct. 12 game of Timon at Canisius will be a part of the Bills’ Bill-ieve Weekend. The Sunday, Oct. 13, home game against Cincinnati is the Bills’ major Bill-ieve game as it is the team’s only home game in October. On Friday, Oct. 11, there is an event and concert in downtown Niagara Falls that features appearances by Bills players and a ceremonial pink lighting of the Falls.
There are also other schools and other sports programs getting involved in the initiative as well with their own in-house fund-raisers.
This year’s initiative came together in the last few months. Organizers are hoping to have many more high schools involved next year.