PINK UP: Third grade boys use pink jerseys to encourage breast cancer awareness

Pink Up: 3rd grade boys use pink jerseys to encourage breast cancer awareness
(Source: Nichole Cartmell/KFVS)
(Source: Nichole Cartmell/KFVS)

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A group of third grade boys in Cape Girardeau is the only team in the youth Cape Optimist Basketball League to have pink jerseys.

It was originally an honest mistake.

"We're the Bulls so we requested red, black, white or gray. The lady goes, 'Oh yeah your jerseys are right here.' And she held them up and they were pink and I said, 'You know this is for 3rd grade boys right?' And she goes 'Oh my gosh I'm so sorry,'" explained head coach Jeff Brune.

But rather than return them, Jeff decided to use it as a perfect teaching moment.

"It could be a really big thing with as big as pink up is in our community to explain to these boys the power of wearing that and what we're supporting," Brune said.

To explain what pink really means, the coaches reached out to Jimmy Wilferth, the executive director at Saint Francis Medical Center.

Before one of their games, Wilferth talked with the boys.

"Man I can't tell you how proud I am of you guys for wearing pink because when I was growing up, when we were growing up, weren't nobody wearing pink because it meant something different," Wilferth told them. "It meant like you were soft or you were girly, or whatever. Today it doesn't mean that."

The scary statistic: one in eight U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Wilferth told the boys that means at least one of the boys on the team of nine players will know a woman who gets the ugly c.

"One of you on average, a women in your life, a mom, a sister, a grandma, an aunt, is going to be diagnosed with breast cancer," Wilferth said to the boys.

But he wasn't trying to scare them.

Instead, he said these kids, third grade boys, can be the difference.

"If the kids can help remind the mom, have you gotten checked, then things can be detected that fast," Wilferth said. "And this is beaten everyday but it's all about time. It's all about catching it early."

Boys like Zade Hickey have really embraced the idea.

When asked why he was okay with wearing pink, Hickey lifted his arms in the air and said, "I like breast cancer awareness!"

For these boys, basketball has taken on an entirely new meaning.

"These kids, these young men, yeah they are here to play basketball, but they are also here representing life saving screenings, life saving mammograms."

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2017 KFVS. All rights reserved.