It was standing room only in the High School gym last Friday as the community came together with our Jenison schools and families to celebrate and honor those affected and overcoming Breast Cancer. The crowd was awash with bright pink t-shirts, the Jenison basketball teams wore pink jerseys and the student section was not without a few hot pink feather boas and tutus!
The PINK OUT began five years ago to honor the parent of a girls basketball player and it’s easy to see why this event has grown to such impressive proportions. In between the girls and boys games Mr. TenBrink hosted a special program to honor thirteen women from the Jenison community who are in various stages of their Breast Cancer journey’s. Each woman had a banner hanging high with their name on it and they were each thoughtfully introduced and escorted onto the court by friends or family to supportive applause. Some of the women were Jenison employees, others were community members with grown children, but each was welcomed, cheered and the encouragement could be felt from the crowd.
Each honoree was asked to share one word that describes the response they’ve experienced from the Jenison community and some of the inspiring words were humbling, caring, supportive, blessing, outstanding, embrace and thank you.
One honoree, Shirley Kerkstra, has been cancer free for nine years and was excited to be asked to both ride the PINK OUT float at Homecoming as well as be honored at the game. “It’s exciting to meet other survivors!” Another special honoree was Shonta Frody who was diagnosed as a freshman while at Jenison High School. Now, three years later she is cancer free and having her as part of the honorees was especially important to her good friend and fellow senior, Alexis Harley-Bowman, who says, “It’s good for the community that we come out to support everyone who is going through this.” Luke Krombeen [senior] agrees and says, “I think everybody in the community is affected and it’s important to raise money for people.”
Funds raised through the sale of PINK OUT t-shirts as well as donation buckets that were passed will be donated directly to members of the community fighting Breast Cancer and facing incredible medical expenses. High School Principal, Dr. Brandon Graham says, “It’s a great community event. You see the support for one another throughout the community.”
“PINK OUT has a rich and historic tradition in the Jenison community. The support for this event has grown exponentially over the past six years. Each year those in charge of PINK OUT have sold more t-shirts, involved more people, and attracted larger crowds. This past Friday night, we certainly “Witnessed the Power of Pink,” as almost 3,000 people stuffed themselves into the high school gymnasium. Even though we ran out of parking spaces and seats and the temperatures soared, the attitude of those in attendance expressed nothing less than support for those whom everyone came to honor. I have never been more proud of the Jenison community than I was on Friday night. To feel the genuine love and support being shown for those who have found themselves in a difficult fight against an ugly disease, cancer, was overwhelming. Participating in PINK OUT for the past six years, has been one of the most memorable and meaningful experiences of my life. As I said at the end of the PINK OUT Celebration, we should never ever forget that Together, We are Jenison!” — Tom TenBrink