Making every down count in the fight against breast cancer

High School Sports Zone

WAKEFIELD, Mich. (WJMN) – The Gogebic Miners hosted the Stephenson Eagles in the annual Superior Health Foundation’s “Painting the Penninsula Pink” football game. Both teams were decked out in pink gear and ready to play in a game that meant much more than a notch in the win column.

“The big winners were the breast health patients across the Upper Peninsula,” Jim LaJoie, Executive Director, Superior Health Foundation said. “We couldn’t be more proud of this community. They came out, they purchased bucket drawings. We got people involved with the 50/50. We had a record 50/50 this year. We had blue skies and a bunch of smiling faces. We raised a good portion of money for a great, great cause.”

All of the money raised from the event will be staying right here in the U.P. to help breast cancer patients with the financial burden associated with the battle.

The Stephenson Eagles came out strong from the beginning with the help from senior Canaan Elson. Elson has a personal tie to the disease with his mom being diagnosed, and he said he took the field on Saturday with her in mind.

“My mom is always here,” Elson said. “She is here right now, right over there and I could hear her screaming all the time and it is just amazing to have her out here. She has beaten it every day so it is just amazing.”

On the home side of the field, the Miners had a special fan in their stands as well. Three years ago, Mrs. Simcoe, the high school secretary in Bessmer was diagnosed with breast cancer. From selling wristbands in her honor to sending flowers and a meal to just words of encouragement, Mrs. Simcoe says she really felt the love throughout her fight from the community, and for her school to have the opportunity to be a part of this game, means the world to her.

“It is very special,” Mrs. Simcoe said. “It is extremely special that we were selected this year and now I am at the high school, where when I started with the whole process I was at the grade school. Even some of the boys have asked ‘Mrs. Simcoe, are you coming to the game?’ Mrs. Simcoe, are you coming to the game? You know it is our pink out game right?’ They remember. That was 3 years ago and some of these kids were in 6th grade but they remember and they asked ‘Are you coming to the game?’ So there is still that support and outpouring of love.”

On the field, the Miner’s team really embraced the pink theme. Some players sporting pink hair, others had on pink socks and undershirts but the main star of the pink theme was the specialty jerseys Gogebic took the field in. Following the game, the jerseys were auctioned to the highest bidder with all of the money going towards the Superior Health Foundation’s Breast Health Fund. Gogebic Head Coach, Nick Heikkila says his team is always ‘All In’.

“My kids are all out with everything that they do,” said Heikkila. “They put forth their best effort and they are going to try and put on the best show that they can. We are undersized and a young team but we are going to take our lumps. I am happy that they showed up and they embraced this as much a possible.”

This game was just the kick-off of the Superior Health Foundation’s “Painting the Penninsula” campaign for 2021. Throughout the entire month, SHF is encouraging businesses to sponsor a day in October. All of the money raised will go back to the Breast Health Fund as well as a portion will be going to the Wakefield and Bessemer school districts for health-centered projects.

To sponsor a day, click here.

To donate to the Breast Health Fund, click here.

To visit the Superior Health Foundation Pink Shop, click here.

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