Lindsay Johnson has always encouraged her teams to give back, during both her time as Shaw volleyball coach as well as this season, her first at Northside.
At Shaw, her teams would play one match each year during which they would take up donations for breast cancer. This year for October's Breast Cancer Awareness month, she came across the Paint the Town Pink Run/Walk and decided it would be a great opportunity for her entire team to participate and gain perspective on life.
"When I saw the race, I just decided we'd all run it," Johnson said. "We did donations and we did a game a few weeks ago, where we had pink balloons and everyone wore pink head bands. Kids could buy a ribbon for a dollar, and that dollar went to the West Georgia Cancer Center."
The 5k run/walk, held Friday night beginning at Woodruff Park and extending along
the Riverwalk, benefitted the West Central Georgia Cancer Coalition and contributed to the main goal of increasing breast cancer awareness. The coalition serves Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Meriwether, Schley, Stewart, Talbotton, Taylor, Troup, Webster, Russell and Lee counties.
The event hits close to home for many, some who have had breast cancer and others who have known someone who had breast cancer.
Northside volleyball player Lindsay Shirah, who participated in the race, had an aunt who battled breast cancer and said that provides more motivation to try to get involved.
"Cancer's a big deal," said Shirah, who also participates in Relay for Life. "Especially if you've witnessed a family member going through it. It was hard, because (my aunt) was always happy, even through everything. She was sick as a dog and still smiling."
Shirah said that puts more weight on her heart to participate in things like the 5k and Relay for Life, and that she plans on participating in more in the future.
Even those who haven't known someone with breast cancer, specifically, understand the importance.
Morganne Harper, also on the Lady Patriots volleyball team, said her granddad suffered from a different form of cancer and that helps motivate her as well.
"I just think it's important to give back and to participate as a team," she said.
Other schools around the area are participating in similar activities to raise awareness for the disease. Some held their activities two weeks ago during the Georgia High School Association breast cancer awareness week, while others plan on doing things throughout October.
Brookstone cross country runners will wear pink T-shirts to its meets throughout the month to help raise awareness. Carver will wear pink socks, gloves and other apparel throughout the month in all sports to help raise awareness.
Pacelli will do the same throughout the month. The football team wore pink tape and wristbands during its game against Brookstone Friday night, and athletic director Alan Griffin said the volleyball and cheerleading teams would participate as well. They will make special recognition at the football game on Oct. 18.
Smiths Station's breast cancer awareness game will be held when the football team faces Carver-Montgomery on Oct. 18. The school will have a table set up with different paraphernalia (stickers, tattoos, pink beads, bracelets, etc.). The game will be a pink out game in which all fans are asked to wear pink.
Russell County's Oct. 18 football game against Valley will also be a designated pink night to raise awareness.
Calvary Christian athletic director Brian Osborne said his athletic programs will be selling pink apparel to benefit the Breast Care Center at Columbus Regional, and volleyball will have a pink out game on Oct. 15. The football team will have a pink out on Oct. 18 and present a check to Columbus Regional at halftime.
Columbus High athletic director Chad Mathis said his school doesn't have any specific event planned during the month, but that it is heavily involved with Relay for Life.
Glenwood already hosted a pink out volleyball game on Wednesday, during which players wore pink uniforms and pink ribbons were sold throughout the game. Its basketball, baseball and softball teams, which are currently out of season, also participate in pink out games during the winter and spring.
Hardaway and Spencer both had teams participate in pink outs during the GHSA week in September. The Lady Greenwave volleyball team wore pink, and both Lady Hawks volleyball and softball teams did the same.
Harris County's football team normally wears pink paws or socks, but all of its games are on the road in October. The softball team did a pink out when it played at Northside, and all athletics are involved with Relay for Life.
David Mitchell, Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.