On Friday, it was an extremely cold winter’s evening, with wind chills dropping well below zero outside; however, it was a heartwarming evening inside Pembroke Jr./Sr. High School as the community came out by the hundreds in support of the twelfth annual Shooting For A Cure! game. The hallways, gymnasium, and cafeteria were packed with people throughout the evening who were looking to make a difference in the battle against cancer. On Friday night, by game’s end, the twelfth annual Shooting For A Cure! game had raised over $26,000 to help fund cancer research at Roswell Park. Over the weekend and even early this morning, donations have continued to trickle in, ensuring that the total keeps growing by the day.
In 2011, the original team decided to use their passion for playing basketball as a platform from which to host a fundraiser for breast cancer research at Roswell Park in support of community member Toni Funke. As a result, the girls, their coaches, and several dedicated community members organized an annual event, naming it Shooting For A Cure!, through which they have now raised a total of over $250,000 in contributions for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. This game remains at the top of the independent fundraising events list sanctioned by Team Roswell.
Mary Russo, Team Roswell Coordinator, continues to be amazed by the players and families in the community. “The Pembroke Girls basketball team truly knows how to rally a community together for such an incredible cause. In their twelfth year of hosting their Shooting For A Cure! game, the girls raised over $26,000 for critical, life saving treatments at Roswell Park,” noted Russo. “We are all so incredibly grateful for the passion and dedication this team, the students, the families, and the Pembroke faculty has for the Roswell Park community. We truly admire their commitment to be champions for a cure,” said Russo.
Anyone who would like to support the cause is encouraged to do so by visiting the Shooting For A Cure! donation page.
According to Arron K. Brown, a Pembroke 6th grade teacher who worked tirelessly all evening running his famous Snack Shack, “The fans this season were again extremely generous. As we sold pizza logs, slices of pizza from Homeslice 33, barbecue from Burnin’ Barrel BBQ, chips and queso from Salsarita’s, sandwiches and cookies from Buttercrumbs, donuts and coffee from Tim Hortons, ice cream sundaes from Hershey’s, people weren’t even asking us for change,” shared Brown. “The true spirit of the Pembroke community carried over into the Snack Shack, as we had an army of volunteers ready to help in any way they could! From cooking pizza logs, going on supply runs, scooping ice cream or just cleaning up tables, our Dragon spirit was on full display,” added Brown. “This night is my favorite night of the school year. I love seeing how this community rallies around each other the way they do. You can just feel the energy and love in the air,” said Brown.
DJ Jickster from 97 Rock was in attendance to energize the crowd and to share his sincerest appreciation for what the Pembroke community continues to do for cancer research at Roswell Park. During game breaks, he hosted six separate check presentations, sharing the court with students from both the Primary and Intermediate Schools who held coin drives, as well as the Oakfield-Alabama and Attica school districts who held their own coin drives in support of the event. Teachers and students were recognized by Jickster for their efforts. Each group presented their funds to the Pembroke Girls Basketball team in support of funding research efforts at Roswell Park. Additionally, Mr. Brown presented Mr. Wilson with a check from the Can Jam Redemption center’s bottle and can drive which raised $900 in returns from scores of generous supporters. Community member Billy Burd, owner of Billy The Kid Automotive, sent in a $500 donation with Jickster, accompanied by a personal note sharing some kind words for the team and the Pembroke community and memorializing family members and friends.
Later on that evening, during an emotional halftime ceremony hosted by Pembroke Superintendent Mr. Matthew Calderon, the girls team memorialized 25 community members and honored 31 cancer survivors (virtually as well as in person) personifying their dedication to this cause. White roses were placed in a vase in memory of those we’ve lost and pink roses were placed in that same vase in honor of survivors in our community. Nine community members stood on the baseline and were recognized by name. Each survivor who joined us on the court was honored with a hug from a player or family member, handed a single rose, and cheered by the hundreds of fans who packed into the gymnasium.
Jennifer Wilson, a Pembroke 5th grade teacher, organized the halftime ceremony again this season. “For the team to continue to play this game each year in memory of and in honor of members of this community whose lives have been affected by cancer means a lot to me. We’re a community, we’re all in this together, and no one fights alone,” said Wilson. “The list of people we honor and memorialize continues to grow each season. It’s important that we all give back as much as we can and be as supportive as we can be. So many teachers, parents, grandparents and even former students have all been affected by this disease in some way,” added Wilson. “Showing our love and support to these members of our community is what this night is all about,” shared Wilson.
Recent alumna Allie Schwerthoffer made it a priority to be in attendance on Friday night in support of the game that still means so much to her. As a player, Allie enjoyed the opportunity to support those battling the disease, to celebrate survivors, and to remember those we’ve lost. With her playing days now behind her, she circled this date on her calendar and made sure to be back in town for the game to help out. “I was excited to come back and see the hallways full of people. You could just feel the positive energy! It was a different experience to be on the other side of the game now as a volunteer,” shared Schwerthoffer. “The pink game is a sign of hope. It is a reminder to devote ourselves to something bigger. Our community is filled with love and support for one another and the pink game gives us all a chance to come together in support of those in need,” Schwerthoffer added.
The generous support of local benefactors has made the event possible. In addition to individual supporters, the 2022-2023 Shooting For A Cure! business and organization donor list includes 189 Burger, 26Shirts, ADPRO Sports, Alex’s Place, Aquarium of Niagara, Arcade-Attica Railroad, Arrowhead Golf Club, Baldwin’s Country Store, Batavia Country Club, Batavia Muckdogs, Batavia’s Original, Billy The Kid Automotive, Bourbon & Burger, Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Bisons, Buffalo Sabres, Burnin’ Barrel BBQ, Buttercrumbs Bakery, C.B. Beach & Son Mortuary, Cedar Street Sales & Rental, Chestnut Hill, Cinquino’s, Coffee Press, Coca-Cola of Rochester, Crickler Vending, Delta Sonic, Dinosaur Barbecue, Dixon Ticonderoga, Dollars for Scholars, Dry Creek Group
Eli Fish, Empire Realty Group, Five Guys, Foxprowl Collectibles, Game of Throws, Genesee County DSS, Great Clips of Lancaster, Green Mountain Electric, Hershey’s Ice Cream, Holiday Valley, Homeslice 33 Pizzeria, Insty-Prints, Jim’s Steakout, Jimbo’s Construction, Knockaround Sunglasses, Linda’s Family Diner, M&T Bank, Mighty Taco, Mosquito Hunters of Buffalo, Mugs & More, New Era, NYSCOPBA, OnCore Golf, Original Pizza Logs, Oxford Pennant, Pembroke Youth Association, Pesci's Pizza & Wings, Pink Cow, Reeds Jewelers – Jenss Décor, Roman’s, Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, Russell’s Steaks, Chops & More, Salsarita’s, Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, Sincerely Kayla Photography, Stan’s Harley-Davidson, Store716, Terry Hills, Tim Horton’s, ULTA Beauty of Batavia, Vivify Hydration, Yancey’s Fancy, and YMCA of Batavia.
Businesses and organizations still wishing to make a donation for this year’s event should contact Mike Wilson, the Shooting For A Cure! coordinator at Pembroke, by calling 716.949.0523.