Home court is place to fight cancer at Manchester Valley

School rallies around player's mom for annual Serve Up a Cure event

  • Katie White of Manchester Valley's varsity girls volleyball team gives some inspirational words about her family before the special "Serve Up a Cure" fundraiser game for the American Cancer Society at the school in Manchester, on Oct. 12. The event was in honor of Cheryl White who is in remission from cervical cancer and is the mother of of senior volleyball player Katie White.
Katie White of Manchester Valley's varsity girls volleyball… (Staff photo by Brian Krista )
October 13, 2011|By Katie V. Jones

"Game on, cancer!"

With those words, Katie White and her fellow Manchester Valley High School teammates took to the volleyball court Oct. 12 to fight not only their opponents from Brunswick, but cancer — in all its many forms.

Fighting cancer has become a personal mission for the team. During the squad's first season three years ago — Manchester Valley had just opened — White's mother, Cheryl, was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The team banded together and with the help of coach Mindy Unger, organized the first Serve Up a Cure fundraiser.

"I think it is a wonderful event," said Cheryl, after watching her daughter's team defeat Brunswick in three straight sets. "It's great for the American Cancer Society. It's great support."

All proceeds from the night's ticket sales, raffles and bake sale are donated to the American Cancer Society. The first year of the event, the proceeds went toward cervical cancer research. Last year, the team decided to cover all cancers, and selected the American Cancer Society to receive the $2,117 raised, Unger said. This year, the goal was to raise $2,500, though an immediate tally was not available.

"One of the big pushes of this school is service learning projects," said Lynn Anne Rice, a math teacher at Manchester Valley who was busy selling tickets to game. "One of the goals from the beginning was students would contribute to the community. It is part of what we do on a regular basis."

While the school's varsity cheerleaders attended last year's Serve Up a Cure, this year the squad assisted with planning and running the event. The cheerleading squad's coach, Kim Cashen, lost her father to leukemia over the summer.

"At the coaches' meeting at the beginning of the year, I told (Unger) whatever you do, I really want to help," Cashen said. "It's a lot of work. I challenged each girl to raise $10 per person. They more than exceeded that. They're very excited."

Between the volleyball players and the cheerleaders, the Serve Up a Cure event on Wednesday featured a variety of homemade goodies at the bake table, raffle prizes covering everything from dinner and lunch gift certificates to Vera Bradley purses and movie night baskets.

Pink ribbons put together by the cheerleaders were also available and were worn proudly not only by parents, but by members of the opposing team.

During the game, the cheerleaders waved pink pompoms while cheering on the Mavericks. Manchester players wore pink uniform tops, instead of the school's traditional blue, silver and white, in honor of the occasion.

"I'm so thankful for everyone who came out and donated," Katie White said after the game.

"We're really close," she said of her teammates. "We've been together since we first opened up. Next Monday is our senior night and I'm going to cry."

Though this is Katie's last year with the team, but Unger said Serve Up a Cure will continue. "I think it is a tradition that we'll keep going," she said.

Cheryl White hopes to come back next year, too, to see a few games and stay connected to the school community.

"She (Katie) keeps telling me she's coming back to help out," Cheryl said. "It will be hard not to see her play."

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