A crowd of over 100 gathered at the Jay Dix trailhead Saturday to take in the Columbia Outlaws’ fourth annual Pink Match to support breast cancer awareness.
While the outcome wasn’t what the Outlaws hoped for, they were playing for a much bigger cause than just one rugby match.
Team captain and Columbia Rugby Football Club chairman Sean Cox gave a moving speech before kickoff, saying the team was playing for the hundreds of thousands of people who are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
“It started with a bunch of us wearing pink socks together in a match. That was all it was,” said club president Shan Schauffler. “I was fortunate enough to know Liz Schulte and it was a match made in heaven.”
The next year, the CRFC decided to start supporting Pink Pursuit and the event has grown every year since.
“It hits me and a couple other guys close to the heart and to be able to do this is one of those things where we don’t know how they personally feel, but it gives us a chance to do something to show support,” Schauffler said. “The greatest thing is that it stays local and you know it could help somebody that you or your friends know.”
In order to express their unity with women and families affected by breast cancer, the Outlaws wore pink jerseys with the number “1/6” on the back of every jersey.
The scene at the Pink Match was one for the whole family. For those who enjoy a good rugby match, there was a game between two talented squads. For those of age, beer was available with no set price, allowing people to donate as much as they wanted for each beer. And for the kids, there was a bounce house donated by one of the CRFC’s sponsors.
Both the CRFC and Pink Pursuit, a local breast cancer awareness charity organization, were selling items to raise funds. There were a variety of t-shirts, drinks, pink cups and socks for sale. In addition to those items, the 23 Outlaw jerseys were auctioned after the game.
All the money raised Saturday goes to the Pink Pursuit and their “Mammo-van” program. The mammo-van is a van Pink Pursuit turned into a mobile mammogram service that goes to rural parts of Missouri — giving medical options to women who may be too far from a hospital to receive treatment from doctors.
“By getting one (mammogram), your options are better,” founder and president of Pink Pursuit, Liz Schulte said. “The van will park in a local parking lot and issue mammograms all day. If you have insurance, it’s covered and if you don’t, what we do makes it free.”
CRFC player and treasurer Nathan Thompson said the team raised over $800 for Pink Pursuit last year and is expecting to raise over $1,000 this year.
Schulte has had three family members affected by breast cancer, which sparked her idea of founding a non-profit benefiting the disease. In the last seven events Pink Pursuit has held, they’ve raised over $85,000, or about 500 mammograms for the state of Missouri.
“I can’t even imagine not partnering with these guys, they’ve been amazing,” Schulte said. “They’re passionate guys who don’t mind running around in pink!”
Not only does CRFC benefit Pink Pursuit in its annual Pink Match, it also participates in Pink Pursuit’s trivia night every year, according to Schulte.