Camas High School girls basketball games features athletes battling up and down the court for baskets. Friday night’s match-up against Mountain View offered much the same, but with a twist. This time, as part of Hoops for Pink, they were also battling against breast cancer.
Dressed in pale pink uniforms, a pre-game ceremony had the CHS team members handing out pink carnations to cancer survivors in the stands. A moment of silence also memorialized those who lost their fight against the disease.
Drawn on each players’ arm was a pink breast cancer ribbon along with the initials “C.B.” It was a tribute to Christina Bonazelli who died Jan. 7, 2013, of breast cancer. She was the mother of Papermaker graduate and basketball player Rachel Bonazelli.
“She was a part of our basketball family,” said Nadine Knight, who has been organizing Hoops for Pink since 2010. The event was started in 2009 by former coach Kent Thomas.
Proceeds from Hoops for Pink benefit the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Founded in 2007, the organization is named for the late Sandra Kay Yow, former North Carolina State University head women’s basketball coach, and past president and founding member of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. She died of breast cancer in 2009.
Knight said the Camas fundraiser included a total of 35 gift baskets for the raffle, valued at $7,000. Many of the same individuals and business continue to donate year-after-year.
“Every year when everything is set up and we start selling the raffle tickets, I just start to cry tears of gratitude for all those wonderful people that have donated or helped to make this event possible,” she said.
Donations for the raffle come from a variety of businesses such as The Barbers, The US Oncology Network, and Industrial Hearing Services, Inc., as well as individuals including Kent Thomas, and parents of CHS boys and girls varsity, junior varsity and freshman players. Other contributors include orthodontist Dr. Trevor Allen, who purchased pink balls that players tossed into the crowd this year and in 2015.
Of Knight’s six children, two have played basketball for the Papermakers. Kimi graduated in 2013, and Stephanie is a junior this year. She begins planning for Hoops for Pink months in advance, seeking out donations and coordinating volunteers.
“I love the cause and the way that it brings our community together,” Knight said. “It’s worth all of the time and loss of sleep.”
Although the tally on the total amount raised has not been finalized, Knight described Friday as a successful night for Hoops for Pink, as well as the Papermaker athletes. Camas won the game 50-38.
“We are thrilled to be the first school in our area to have started this kind of event,” Knight said. “We are so happy that other schools have followed with their own Hoops for Pink-type events, by our example.”
Tonight, it will be Mountain View’s turn to host its fundraiser — Shoot for the Cause. Proceeds will benefit the Pink Lemonade Project, a nonprofit organization started by Drs. Allen and Cassie Gabriel, of Camas, to support women diagnosed with breast cancer.
In matches against Heritage, the boys varsity will play at 5:30 p.m., followed by the girls at 7 p.m. There will be a gift basket and gift card raffle, as well as a half-time contest with prizes. Mountain View is located at 1500 S.E. Blairmont Drive, in Vancouver.