Seahawks show support in fight against cancer
By Kyle LoJacono
Anyone who knows Courtney and Meghan Durbin is aware of how they take on challenges, whether it is in school, with sports or in the fight against cancer.
The twin sisters at Sunlake High created Pink Out Day three years ago. The senior softball players had the idea to have the Seahawks team wear pink to raise awareness and show support in the fight against all forms of cancer at one of its games each year.
The girls have continued the spring version but are now bringing it to the fall football season for Sunlake’s home game against Hernando at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14.
“We started the Pink Out movement last year, but it was at an away (football) game at Wesley Chapel,” Courtney said. “We wanted to do it at home to get more of the community involved. Also this year we’re doing a fundraiser too by selling pink T-shirts to raise money for the American Cancer Society (ACS).”
Everyone in attendance is asked to wear pink. Even the Seahawks football players will be appropriately dressed for the evening.
“All the football players will be wearing pink gloves and pink socks and the cheerleaders are wearing pink bows,” Courtney said. “Hopefully all the people in the community going to the game will wear pink too.”
Meghan said the awareness is what the event is truly about.
“Sometimes high school kids and people in general are kind of oblivious to what’s going on in the world outside of them and in their own little box,” Meghan said. “They don’t think of people fighting through cancer treatment, so if you can get them to think about it just for a day it’s helping.”
The Durbins want to raise awareness of all forms of cancer, but their interest in fighting the disease started with a personal connection. Their mother, Kay, was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2008 when the girls were in eighth grade.
Kay also had a bout with uterine cancer associated with one of the medications she took to combat her breast cancer, but early surgery removed the tumor before it could spread. She has been in remission since June 2009 and said she is in good health.
“It makes me very proud to see that they’ve grown into such young ladies given the trials they had to go through at such a young age,” Kay said. “When most people are just coming into themselves in their tweens, they had to deal with a mature situation. They had to be mature young adults to help caregivers.
“It’s a hard thing to deal with just going through your teens in high school,” Kay continued. “For them to handle that and maintain their grades and being involved in clubs and sports, it’s just been a joy to sit back and watch your daughters overcome such a challenge and take it to the next level of spreading it to the community.”
Steve, Kay’s husband and the twins’ father, echoed his wife’s sentiments.
“It’s just been spectacular on their part after being through a lot,” Steve said.
Steve is having a Pink Out Day of his own where he works at USAA Insurance.
The Durbins’ link with the disease goes beyond their immediate family.
“Several of my friends have had connections to it too, so we wanted to make it about more than just breast cancer,” Courtney said. “That’s why we’re giving the money to the ACS so it goes to fight all cancers.”
Courtney and Meghan will be selling pink T-shirts at the game with Maura Craig, an English teacher at Sunlake, before joining in with the sea of pink. Craig, who is also the sponsor for the Key, Legacy and Class of 2014 clubs, said she has learned a lot from the twins.
“Courtney and Meghan inspire me to want to make a difference in our community and in the world,” said Craig, who has known the twins for three years. “They are selfless individuals who dedicate their free time to helping others. The two sisters organize all of our club’s events and volunteer opportunities, so the Pink Out movement is not out of the norm for them. These young ladies demonstrate the power of possibility.”
The Durbins have also volunteered at the Relay For Life at Sunlake and the Miles for Moffitt Race while maintaining identical 4.138 grade point averages.
“I am amazed at how much they accomplish and organize with our club while maintaining superb grades, juggling sports schedules and dealing with high school in general,” Craig said. She then added, “This year, we hope to have the whole school in pink, as well as our guests at the football game to show that the community and the school can come together to help support a cause.”
The Durbins have already sold 248 pink T-shirts as of Oct. 5, an amount that has stunned Courtney.
“Everyone has made me speechless with all their support and how much they truly care about supporting the cause,” Courtney said.
The shirts are $10 at Sunlake’s game. Donations will also be accepted. All money raised will go to the ACS.
Pink Out Day
Where: Sunlake High, 3023 Sunlake Blvd. in Land O’ Lakes
When: Friday, Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
All those attending the football game against Hernando are asked to wear pink to so support in the fight against all cancers.
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