How ‘Shooting for a Cure’ Became Pembroke High School’s Identity.
Interview with the head coach and members of the Pembroke High School Girls Varsity Basketball team on recent fundraising efforts.
The Pink Game
It all began in 2011, when Coach Ron Funke’s wife was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, Ron was the head coach of the Pembroke Girls’ summer league softball team. When the team heard the news, the girls approached their head basketball coach Mike Wilson. They were eager to dedicate a ‘Pink Game’ to raising money for Roswell Park Cancer Institute and breast cancer awareness in Mrs. Funke’s honor.
“We walked around with a couple of empty cans of Tim Horton’s coffee asking for donations and a pink basketball. We went out into the community and next thing we knew, it lit up like wild fire,” said Mike.
That first year the team raised $4,000 for Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
“In one night, it was unbelievable…” said Mike, “…once that happened the team came together and decided that this had to be a tradition.”
Shooting for a Cure Success
Shooting for a Cure has grown into an annual event for the Pembroke High School and its community. Six years later, Shooting for a Cure is a wild success. The Pembroke High School Varsity Girls’ Basketball team has collectively raised over $60,000 for Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Their 2017 event marked their greatest success yet – raising over $20,000!
Now the Girls’ Varsity Basketball Head Coach, Ron says that everyone wants to help make Shooting for a Cure a success. Local businesses are eager to get involved and donate to the cause, and local teams across Western New York are too!
“Teams across the area want to be a part of this game. Everyone does. Everyone wants to play Pembroke for the pink game…” exclaimed Ron. “…it has become our identity, and I think that is really cool!”
Building a Community
Shooting for a Cure has left a permanent mark on the hearts and spirits of every student who walks through the halls of Pembroke High School.
Mackenna Johnson, a student at Pembroke, remembers being in elementary school and attending the annual event. Now, Mackenna is on the varsity squad and gets to play in the highly anticipated game.
“I have been involved with Shooting for a Cure for so long, but now that I can play, and knowing that I am giving back, motivates me. I want to bring everyone together to make a difference,” said Mackenna.
Mike has taken a step back from coaching, but is still heavily involved with Shooting for a Cure. He attributes the event’s success to the students’ dedication and the community’s passion for the cause.
“I don’t think any of us were aware of how much it impacted our community; just small town Pembroke,” said Mike. “We are not a big district but regardless, cancer has impacted so many people, no matter what type, in our area.”
Tips for Future Fundraisers
For future fundraisers, Mike admits that creating something like Shooting for a Cure is hard and takes a lot of work. However, he says that with passion, dedication and inspiration, anything is possible.
“If you are passionate, want to help and care about people…” said Mike, “…if you think about what Roswell does for Western New York and the rest of the country, if that inspires you, then start right there.”
Mike also suggests starting small. Shooting for a Cure did not grow over night but took years to fully develop. He encourages anyone who wants to, to give it a try, because you will be doing something great for your school and your community. And with their help, your event will grow!
“You’ll be truly amazed at how the people around you want to help,” he said.
Follow Shooting for a Cure on Twitter @PemGBB_PinkGame