The Swift Current Comp. Senior Ardens basketball team rallied their school and community to raise over $15,000 for a local family affected by cancer with their Pink Game on Feb. 27.
The Ardens’ fundraising efforts will benefit Swift Current’s Stacy Smith, who has been battling cancer since December of 2017. The fundraising initiative concluded on Wednesday when the Ardens hosted the Regina Campbell Tartans before a near large crowd at the SCCHS Gymnasium.
“I just think it’s so good for these kids to come together and gel even more as a team. It shows their camaraderie. Our community, it really shows everybody that, you know everybody is so busy doing everything these days, it makes you step back and look around and notice what happens,” said Smith after the game.
It was the third Pink Game that the Ardens have hosted, following up on the 2017 edition that raised over $13,000 for the late Rena Best, who was a close personal friend of Smith.
“We’re very honoured to be chosen for this,” said Smith. “I was here a couple years ago on the other side of the fence in the bleachers watching the game. It was a friend of mine. At the time I never expected to be a recipient. It’s hard to be able to be able to accept something like this actually. I guess it shows that you have to admit that you could use help I guess and that’s a hard thing to do.”
Smith has been through chemotherapy and radiation treatments and still has an upcoming surgery.
“You’re never really sure that you’re going to be okay, but you hope so. I’m just trying to keep that attitude of looking for the good stuff every day, because otherwise you miss out,” she said.
“It was super awesome,” said Ardens’ grade 12 guard Mackenzie Veason of the evening. “The first year it was a lot of work. I was a rookie so I didn’t really do that much. Now as a grade 12 I contributed quite a bit. It all paid off in the end.”
Smith’s niece, Tiana Knight, is a third-year member of the Ardens.
“It feels amazing, especially since a girl on our team, her auntie we raised the money for, so it was pretty special to our team,” said Veason.
The Ardens spent weeks raising money at the school and around the community. Their efforts were bolstered prior to the game when the Irwin Ice basketball teams handed over a cheque for over $3,000 and the visiting Tartans contributed over $1,000 from their own efforts in Regina. Halftime featured teacher Gerod Wiens getting his beard shaved off and members of the Swift Current Home Hardware Legionnaires shaving their heads after fundraising goals had been met. The Ardens also will provide a set of pink jerseys to the Tartans so they can host a Pink Game in the future.
“I’m very proud to be part of this community. These young people, this Ardens team and the Irwin team, it’s all of them. It is awesome,” said Smith.
“It’s awesome. I can’t thank them enough and I think we live in a great community,” added Veason.
Though it took a backseat, the Ardens did overcome an early 10-point deficit to defeat the Tartans 65-52.
Grade 12 Danika Messer led the Ardens with 14 points, followed by 13 from Mackenzie Veason and 11 from grade nine Mackenzie McIntyre.
“I think we were a little bit nervous at the start. We were kind of frazzled a little bit, but we came together as a team and we started hitting shots in the second half and I thought we did pretty good,” said Veason.
Smith said it was a welcome respite from her daily battle against cancer.
“Yeah it’s so nice to see the energy of the crowd and everybody is so positive. It’s a very good night. I’d love all the teams to be doing something like this. The kids are very proud to be part of it. I have talked to my niece and she said the girls on the team are just so excited for this game.”