When Kilmore Netball Association vice-president Colleen Meade was diagnosed late last year with a devastating recurrence of the breast cancer that had been in remission for some time, the local community rallied to help. As so many communities do.
There were rosters for meals and support during Colleen’s debilitating weekly chemotherapy sessions, as well as car pooling organised to netball training and games for her two young daughters, Chelsea and Courtney.
Her friend Jodie Cloke, the KNA treasurer, has since been driving another important initiative: a united Kilmore and Broadford Netball Association effort to host a collective Pink Sports Day on 18 May in support of Breast Cancer Network Australia.
“When something like this happens to one of your closest friends, you want to just pick them up and go ‘what can we do to help you?’‘’ said Cloke. “So this is supporting an organisation that’s helping our dear friend at the moment, and also just raising awareness.’’
Cloke’s own sporting family – including father David and brothers Jason, Cameron and Travis, all former AFL players – has not been directly affected by breast cancer, but grim statistics show that one in eight Australian women will be diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime.
Big organisations, like Netball Victoria, make a huge difference with their elite activations, such as the Melbourne Vixens Pink Sports Day round against Giants Netball on Sunday, May 5th. The “pink lady” on the Vixens’ dress will be a visible presence with a Pink Lady tribute field outside the front gate before the game.
But no association is too small, and no scale too minor, to make a difference at community level, as well.
At Kilmore, six of their seven junior teams will be playing at home on the 18th. Everything, everywhere, will be pink. Balls. Bibs. Shoelaces, Hair ribbons. Balloons. Cupcakes in the canteen. Even bread. “We’re making it bigger than Ben Hur this year – because of Colleen, really,’’ says Cloke.
Carmen Mullenger, the BCNA’s Pink Sports Day program manager, says Kilmore is just one example of a club, whether regional or metropolitan, that is “often the heartbeat of communities, showing support and rallying together when families are faced with a breast cancer diagnosis.
“A Pink Sports Day is a simple, fun and easy way to rally players, officials and supporters together to PLAY4BCNA and fundraise in support of the important work we do as an organisation every day supporting these women, men and their families.’’
The Vixens will play their part, too, when they host Giants Netball, at a very, very pink Melbourne Arena at 5pm. Activities will include a tribute ‘Field of Women’ at the stadium entrance, hair braiding, face painting, nail polish and tattoo transfers for a gold coin donation.
There will be BCNA Pink Sports Day merchandise for sale, and encouragement for all those in the vast netball community to join the cause. Clubs and associations can still register for hosting duties in May, June, and beyond. Mothers’ Day scheduling, however traditional, is not a requirement. Whatever works.
Meanwhile, back north of Melbourne in Kilmore, Jodie Cloke’s three nervous daughters might just be wondering if their mother can top her hot-pink-wig and dressing gown get-up from last year.
Her friend Colleen Meade will enjoy and appreciate the effort, regardless.
Learn more about holding your own Pink Sports Day for BCNA: www.bcna.org.au/pinksportsday