Gregory, South Central expanding annual cancer awareness match for local benefitBURKE — The high school volleyball teams from Gregory and South Central are preparing for the biggest night of the season when they meet up Thursday in Burke.
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
BURKE — The high school volleyball teams from Gregory and South Central are preparing for the biggest night of the season when they meet up Thursday in Burke.
But the large crowd expected to attend the match will be supporting more than just the girls on the court.
Each year, the two squads face off on a night used to raise money for cancer research. Since 2008, the night has been called “Dig Pink” and has been used for breast cancer awareness, but for the first time the theme has changed. This year, “Setting Up a Cure — For Life” targets all forms of cancer with funds raised going towards pediatric brain tumor research.
The idea was brought up because both communities are being affected by children with brain tumors. Jack Hoffman, a 7-year-old from Atkinson, Neb., and Emerson Olson, a 14-year-old from Denver, both have mothers who played volleyball in the South Dakota towns.
Hoffman’s mother, Brianna Hoffman (Stiner) played high school volleyball in Burke, while Olson’s mother, Ashley Olson (Chocholousek) played in Gregory.
Thursday’s volleyball match is just one way that the teams are raising funds and awareness for pediatric brain tumor research.
“Unfortunately, I think cancer has touched every single person in our community,” Gregory coach Teresa Webster said.
The towns involved have already started raising money for the children, selling more than 500 T-shirts for the game.
Billie Jo Indahl, South Central’s head coach, said T-shirts are sold every year for the volleyball match but the team’s had never sold more than 300.
“We’ve raised about $3,000 from the T-shirts and I think we’re going to raise more than $5,000 for this event,” she said.
Indahl credited the increase in sales to the fact that this year’s cause touches the communities more closely and the fact that it’s for children.
“When it’s for kids, it really tugs at your heart,” she said.
Along with the game Thursday, there will be a silent auction, chances to serve to win T-shirts, grilled burgers sold and other ways to donate.
Webster said Emerson Olson’s condition would not allow her to attend the match, however her family was expected to be in the crowd.
Jack Hoffman is supposed to be at the event for a short time before having to leave to get to Omaha, Neb., for chemotherapy Friday, Indahl said.
Jack Hoffman’s case has been well documented, as last year the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football team took notice. The team has continued to stay involved with Hoffman.
In the Cornhuskers’ 30-27 homecoming win over Wisconsin Sept. 29 in Lincoln, Neb., Hoffman led the team onto the field before kickoff. Hoffman remains in contact with Nebraska’s star running back Rex Burkhead.
As for Thursday’s volleyball match, both coaches admitted they wanted to win but said the game was not near as important as the cause.
“It’s nice to have a win under your belt,” Webster said, “but it’s not why we’re all together. I think everyone realizes how important this is and they realize it’s more than just a win or a loss.”