It’s on now.
A “pink out,” that is.
A UGA fans’ initiative that started on social media earlier this week has caught fire and now has gained major traction. In honor of Blake Anderson, Arkansas State’s head coach, a segment of the Bulldogs’ following is calling for all Georgia fans to wear pink to Saturday’s game at Sanford Stadium (noon, ESPN2).
Anderson’s wife, Wendy, died last month after a two-year battle with breast cancer. She was 49.
Pink is the official color associated with groups seeking a cure for breast cancer. What started with a few Georgia individuals writing “we should wear pink Saturday” in Facebook posts and tweets gained momentum Tuesday. That movement was fueled when an Athens’ group called Bulldogs’ Battling Breast Cancer sent out a Twitter post imploring fans to wear pink Saturday with the hashtag #WearPinkForWendy.
Anderson retweeted that post, adding, “Beyond grateful. … Thank you.”
“It’s just something I saw on Twitter, and I retweeted it, and it’s just sort of taken on a life of its own the last 24 hours,” said Dwight Standridge of Jefferson, who manages the Twitter account for Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer. “So, we’re trying to promote it as best we can now on social media. It’s never a bad thing to shine a light on breast cancer awareness and finding a cure. We’re always glad to do that.”
Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity based in Athens. The group was founded by Jay and Teresa Abbott of Douglasville 12 years ago. The Abbott’s son, Chris, played football for Georgia under coach Mark Richt from 2004-06, when Teresa was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Richt and the Bulldogs got behind the cause and UGA has participated in a charity golf tournament and other fund-raising initiatives ever since. Standridge said the group has raised more than $800,000. Teresa Abbott is now a 15-year survivor of breast cancer.
This was unplanned, however. In fact, an organized pink out already is planned for Georgia’s game against Kentucky on Oct. 19 at Sanford Stadium. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and Georgia’s “Spike Squad,” the student group that wears body paint dresses up in spiked shoulder pads for each home game, wears pink paint for one game each fall to draw attention to it. Last year, they did that for the Vanderbilt game.
But the story of Wendy Anderson prompted a more spontaneous, heart-felt movement for this Saturday’s game against the Red Wolves. She passed away on Aug. 19, the same day Anderson announced he was taking a leave of absence from the team. Anderson remained with his three children and extended family until Saturday, when he made a surprise return to the team the morning that played UNLV in Las Vegas. Arkansas State won 43-17.
Kirby Smart was impressed with the way Anderson handled the situation.
“We’re humans,” Smart said. “A lot of coaches don’t want to remove themselves (from the team) because they feel like they’re letting people down. But they also don’t want to have regret, and there’s a lot more to life than football. Blake’s been a great example of that. I thought he handled that with such class.”
Georgia fans have always shown a soft spot for the struggles of the team’s opposition, as well as their own. Two years ago, tens of thousands of dollars were raised by the Bulldog nation for the family of an Austin Peay assistant coach that was being plunged into massive debt seeking a cure for their young daughter, Landrey. Mary Beth and Kirby Smart surprised Kristen and Josh Eargle with a check for $5,000 on the day of the game.
It appears that the Georgia Bulldogs, once again, are getting behind a worthy cause.
“I think it’s going to be a great gesture by the Bulldog nation for coach Anderson to look up from the field on Saturday and see all that pink in the stands and know that we support his cause,” Standridge said. “It’s getting a lot of publicity now and that’s a great thing.”
The “Pink Out” movement has created a new problem in the Bulldog Nation. There has been a run on the already limited quantity of pink shirts out there with UGA insignia on it.
Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer has a T-shirt of its own, and it’s so popular they can hardly keep them on the shelves. The phrase across the front is “Protect the Puppies.” Standridge said a few are available on the group’s website bulldogsbattlingbreastcancer.com.
They’re going fast.
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