This year, Pleasanton ISD will once again be participating in the Gold Out to Fight Childhood Cancer. The Gold Out football game will be Friday, Oct. 13, vs. Rockport Fulton.
Local residents are encouraged to fill the football stadiums and volleyball gyms with as many gold shirts as possible on Oct. 13. T-shirts will go on sale Sept. 27 and they can be purchased at: Pleasanton High School, Pleasanton Junior High, Pleasanton Intermediate, Pleasanton Elementary, Pleasanton Primary, Pleasanton Athletic Department, Pleasanton Activity Center and Sherry’s Convenience Store on N. Bryant Street.
The shirts are $10 each and $7 from every shirt goes to pediatric cancer research. It is all part of the “Gold Out Campaign” being coordinated by Angel Miller and Kelly Pickel of Teaming Up to Fight Childhood Cancer, a non-profit organization based in Rockdale.
In 2015, the organization sold 7,000 shirts and donated over $54,000 for childhood cancer research. Last year they sold 9,000 shirts and donated $63,000 for childhood cancer research. This year’s goal is $100,000. Thanks in advance for making this possible.
History behind Teaming Up to Fight Childhood Cancer
Every fall there is the exhilaration of a community, parents, and students when their high school football team takes the field. Everyone believes and hopes their team will be the state champion.
Athletic director, high school football coach and father are some of the roles that Jeff Miller plays as an employee of Rockdale ISD in Central Texas. In 2015, his son Gunner, an accomplished athlete, a high school freshman quarterback, was looking forward to playing under his father until he got some life-changing news.
“Our first visit in Temple was with an orthopedic specialist at the Scott & White Roney Bone & Joint Institute,” said Angel Miller, Gunner’s mother. “We took Gunner in for what we thought were shin splints.”
What they discovered afterwards would change their lives: Gunner was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma a rare form of bone cancer. A cancer diagnosis can immediately affect the patient, family, social circle — and in children, schooling and future plans. Parents’ jobs are put on hold, extracurricular activities — and to some extent school — is put on hold as well.
Melissa DeLario, MD, a pediatric oncologist at McLane Children’s Hospital Scott & White, understands the challenges families face with a new diagnosis, but she is often surprised by the resilience of a child as well as their parents.
“The Miller family seemed to try to focus on the positive during Gunner’s diagnosis and treatment,” Dr. DeLario said.
Staying positive was not easy. A family’s hope of watching Gunner play quarterback for his hometown was slowly fading away, especially as they stayed by his side through 17 rounds of chemotherapy over nine months at McLane Children’s Hospital. Angel researched her son’s bone cancer and discovered there was not a lot of research support for childhood cancers in general, but that would change while her son was in the midst of limb salvage surgery for his left tibia.
“I knew I had to do something,” Angel said.
She started a simple cause using the thing that her son and husband loved the most: football. In Texas, football is king on Friday nights, so she began contacting various school districts asking if they would “gold out” to help her in her quest to raise awareness for pediatric cancer research.
The response was overwhelming, and within the first year, Angel along with the help of friends raised more than $54,000 for pediatric cancer research. This year, she sent letters throughout the state calling for support from schools to join the “gold out.”
More than 30 independent school districts — as well as many local businesses — are joining her movement in support of pediatric cancer research awareness. While every high school is in pursuit of a championship, a new winning team has been created by the high schools, businesses and communities that are teaming up to fight childhood cancer. Progress has been made in this fight. Dr. DeLario said research into treatments for childhood cancer, as well as discoveries in the causes of cancer, has certainly come a long way. Only a few decades ago, cancer diagnosed in childhood was like a death sentence. Strides in the treatment of cancer have improved survival rates; however, most of the treatments for pediatric cancers are “passed down” from adult cancer therapies.
Research is still needed to find out why children get cancer and how we can better treat it. A significant number of survivors of childhood cancer have chronic medical problems, such as hypertension, kidney impairment and obesity. The Miller family, along with many impacted by childhood cancer, hope to find more treatments, in addition to finding ways to help those who are cured to live normal, healthy, long lives. The Miller family knows that champions are not made in a day and will continue during the football season to raise awareness by encouraging schools to “gold out” during their games.
With growing support for “Gold Out” over time, beating childhood cancer is now first and 10 for them, and they hope for all of Texas. You can follow their journey on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teaminguptofightcc/