Pat Pranger, a cancer survivor from Wallingford, Vt. sits in the stands at Spartan Arena laughing and joking with many of her friends all around her. Decked out in all shades of pink, this group of women looks on as the Castleton women’s ice hockey team crushes St. Michael’s College 4-1 in the annual Pink the Rink game on Jan. 25.
What is usually a sea of green and white to support Castleton athletics became embellished in pink hues to show Castleton’s support of a greater cause. Fans flooded the arena dressed in head-to-toe pink sporting everything from pink hats and scarves to pink t-shirts and pink Mohawk wigs to show their support.
“There is so much universal support- from the college, the team and all the ancillary groups like the nursing program,” Pranger said. “It’s a whole-hearted effort and I am so appreciative because it’s helping future generations by raising funds.”
One of Pranger’s friends, she explains, was diagnosed (just) with breast cancer two months after her husband passed away from cancer. But these women, like so many around the country, have pulled through with help from support groups and family and friends. Pranger and her friends all are part of “Women 2 Women,” a cancer support group sponsored by Rutland Regional Medical Center.
“We meet once a month to talk, laugh and cry and do things together like take art classes or snowshoe,” she said.
The money from Pink the Rink goes toward Rutland Regional’s breast care program, which takes patients by the hand through the wholeprogram from surgery to treatment.(, from start to finish.)
Loreen Eddy, who is in charge of the Breast Care Program, is overwhelmed with what the ice hockey team does. She’s thrilled with how much time, energy and funds the team gives in support.
This is the team’s fourth year hosting Pink the Rink and first time ever that they won. They took to the ice sporting pink jerseys, socks and laces. The team’s head coach Bill Bowes is in his second year coaching and fully supports the cause.
“Who doesn’t know someone who’s been affected by cancer? The more we can do to get rid of it, the better,” he said. “The crowd was great. It’s so much better being on home ice with support for the cause and our team. It’s like having another player when you have the crowd with you.”
Pink the Rink has grown each year with help from the Rutland Herald and Rutland Magazine publicizing the event and with all the students’ and players’ help. With last year’s total at $8,004, this year’s goal was to raise over $8,000 and keep progressing each year through donations, t-shirt and ticket sales, chuck-a-puck and raffle tickets.
Bowes credits Castleton senior Katharyn Dembowski for organizing the event along with sophomore, Dani Crawford and the entire team. They gathered sponsors from all around Castleton and Rutland to get donations and raffle prizes.
Not only was the community impressed with the team’s efforts to support cancer, but other Castleton students were impressed with the community’s support for their school. Taylor Vile, a freshman and Patrick Gadwah, a sophomore say they’re excited to see community members, like Pranger and her friends, come out to support the team and support the cause.
“It’s great to see the community support our hockey teams and breast cancer,” Vile said. “It really shows their support for our school and the cause.”