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Guelph team uses their love of the game to raise money and awareness for breast cancer

This Saturday the Gryphons wear pink to honour those affected

Jared Beeksma and Greg Corfield know first-hand the devastation that cancer can cause.

Beeksma, who plays linebacker on the Guelph Gryphons Football team, and teammate Corfield, a nose tackle for the defensive line, have both watched their moms go through cancer and agree that it’s a “dirty disease.”

Think Pink for breast cancer awareness

Both players are participating in their team’s annual Think Pink game on Saturday, October 19 which features the Gryphons wearing pink uniforms to honour those who have suffered from and succumbed to cancer and to support a larger fundraising and awareness initiative for the Canadian Cancer Society.

October is breast cancer awareness month, and according to the Canadian Cancer Society, one in eight Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Each year, Think Pink fundraising initiatives are hosted across Canada to support lifesaving breast cancer research. The Think Pink game is a tradition and important event for the Gryphons. The fundraising initiative raises money for the Canadian Cancer Society through the sale of pink mittens and generous donations from game attendees.

A third-time Think Pink player, Beeksma says the older he gets the more people he knows that are affected by cancer, and considers his mom Judy, who is currently cancer-free, one of the luckier ones. “Some people’s battles and their outcome are just unimaginable,” says the linebacker.

A Gryphons tradition now a community event

Nick Fitzgibbon, a member of the Gryphons Football alumni who played from 2006 to 2010, says while the team participated in the Think Pink game when he was a player, the initiative wasn’t nearly as big as it is today. He credits the event’s growth to former head coach, Stu Lang.

Lang, who coached the team from 2010 to 2015, feels strongly that football is a great platform to show support for important causes and the larger community. “I told our football players we needed to be visible and contributing members of our university community,” says the former coach. “Since our campus is primarily female, I told them it would be appropriate for us to become involved in an important and relevant cause that could help our sisters.” 

Lang adds that he did not anticipate how Think Pink would also expand to impact the Gryphons’ POP (parents of players) Group and that the initiative would grow to involve the entire football family collecting money and raising awareness.

As an alumnus, Fitzgibbon is proud of the Think Pink initiative and believes it’s important for players to help bring recognition to causes in their greater community as well as support their fellow teammates who may be affected by cancer. “It’s nice to have a reminder there are things that are more important than football for those on the team and especially to support people in the community who are fighting those battles.”

This year marks the Gryphons’ Corfield’s fifth Think Pink game but the first without his mom, Mary Beth who sadly passed away in February from the disease after a 10-year battle. He says while he “hates it and it’s not fair,” he knows the importance of being there to honour her and support the cause.

“I enjoy doing it, and it’s nice because you feel like you are giving back just a little bit at least.”

Support this great cause by attending the 2019 Gryphons Football Think Pink game held this Saturday, October 17 at Varsity Stadium, located at 299 Bloor St. West in Toronto. All money raised and any donations received will go to support the Canadian Cancer Society.