Sophomore Katie Butz and her volleyball teammates usually head to Smith Center to cheer on their fellow athletes at women’s basketball games, but this Sunday, Butz sat in the bleachers for another reason.
This weekend’s game against Richmond was GW’s first “Think Pink” basketball game – part of a nationwide initiative to raise awareness for breast cancer.
“My grandmother died from breast cancer,” Butz said, sitting with some of her teammates, all of whom were wearing the official Colonial Think Pink T-shirt. “Whenever there’s anything for breast cancer I always try to be involved.”
When the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association began the Think Pink effort in 2007, over 120 schools participated. The number has climbed this year and 918 are taking part in the week, which runs from Feb. 8 to 17.
“The WBCA are the ones who encouraged a lot of these schools to get involved,” said Nicole Early, director of the GW Spirit Program. “On campus we had a committee of people who worked to put it all together, including the GW Spirit Program, GW Athletics and the GW Alumni Program.”
One of the campus goals, Early said, was “for anyone attending who is a breast cancer survivor to walk into the Smith Center and feel the support of our students and feel the support of our university. We’re hoping that it’s nice and pink and that people come and feel great about it.”
The majority of the crowd wore the T-shirt, as did the women’s team during warm ups.
Both teams’ sneakers were tied with pink shoelaces and the referees blew pink whistles. The First Ladies dance team wore the tees as deconstructed halter-tops and members of the cheer team wore pink ribbons in their hair. Inflatable George even wore a large breast cancer awareness ribbon, while the hippo sported a fluffy pink skirt.
Early said she was excited about the amount of involvement with the event. “Everyone has stepped up in some way to getting behind the idea of generating awareness and support.”
She added that the GW Medical School and the GW Hospital “have been instrumental in getting people to come to the game and support the cause.”
Proceeds for the T-shirts – pre-sold for $5 and available at the game for $10 – went to the GW Cancer Institute.
The initial goal was to pre-sell 250 T-shirts. The group sold 900 and made $4,500.
Freshman Kelsey King attended the game with members of the Women’s Leadership Program. “There are a fair amount of us here,” she said. “It’s a good cause and women’s basketball is fun to watch.”
Paul Roos, a senior and house proctor, wore his shirt proudly. “Two of my aunts have died from breast cancer. (Think Pink) is a wonderful cause.”