Real men wear pink

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Jellico football players take part in battle against breast cancer

By Dwane Wilder

Football players normally shy away from wearing anything pink.
But when Jellico Elementary/Middle School cheer coach Linda McNealy pitched the idea for a football game promotion last year to benefit the fight against breast cancer, all those burly, macho boys couldn’t resist rushing to the aid of their damsels in distress.
McNealy’s idea soon became an annual event that the entire Jellico community embraced with open arms.
During last week’s home game against McCreary, Ky., both football teams wore pink to support Jellico’s Passionately Pink for the Cure. The Blue Devils went all out with a pink stripe down their helmets, pink shoelaces and pink socks. Jellico’s coaches even wore pink shirts during the game.
“My mother, Eva Lucille Burns-Siler, had a battle with breast cancer back in the 1980s when I was just 13 years old, which she survived,” said McNealy.  
“So many of our teachers here in Jellico have been affected by breast cancer, as well. This is just an issue and cause that is near and dear to my heart.
“It absolutely thrills me to death when we show up at the game and there are so many people supporting the cause.”
Jellico cheerleaders bought balloons, that were released, prior to kickoff, in honor of and in memory of anyone who has or is fighting the battle against breast cancer. The cheerleaders also gave out a lot of freebies, including pink footballs, pink beads, calendars, pencils, pins, etc.  
“This year, I sold t-shirts that said Jellico   Passionately Pink for the Cure. These are the shirts that the cheerleaders, some of the coaches and many of the fans were wearing on Thursday night,” said McNealy.  
A portion of the proceeds from t-shirt sales will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, while the remainder will help buy letterman jackets for the varsity cheerleaders.
“I have been selling the t-shirts on my own, with the assistance of some of the cheer moms,” said McNealy.
“Myself and one of the other cheer moms who is also a football mom, Linda Plank, purchased the shoelaces for the football team to wear as well as for the cheerleaders to wear.”
Whiplash Gear, in Williamsburg, Ky., donated pink ribbon decals that the football players wore on their helmets.  
Even though the Blue Devils lost the game, 60-0, everyone came out a winner because of the collaborative efforts of both teams to help in the battle against breast cancer.