In a time of division between neighbors and a pandemic continuing to rage across the world, San Tan Charter School’s volleyball team continues to bring people together for a good cause.
For the fourth straight year, the Roadrunners held their Dig Pink Fundraiser, a month-long event in October – which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – raising money to go toward two individuals currently fighting breast cancer in the community. Events like this have become common around the state for multiple high school athletic programs, but most are usually just one game or match.
San Tan Charter head coach Nikki Revling envisioned making a greater impact four years ago when the event started. So, she petitioned for the fundraiser to last all month rather than just one night.
“I think it feels like an honor to do these things for people,” Revling said. “Initially, we ran just one game and my team thought it was the best night ever. We thought, if October is the entire month for breast cancer awareness, why not do go pink the entire month and raise as much money and awareness as possible?
“It’s quite a surreal feeling to know you get to do this stuff.”
The lobby to the gym on San Tan Charter’s campus was decked out in pink ribbons and other breast cancer-themed material. The decorations also flow into the gym, where the Roadrunners are equipped with pink uniforms they wear throughout October.
Revling said the team raised anywhere from $500 to $1500 in years past. Much of those funds come from ticket sales at the door, donations and raffle tickets for a variety of items, including a gift basket made by a team mom this season.
While Revling does not yet know the amount of money the team raised during this year’s fundraiser, she hopes it will exceed the amount raised in the past. Part of that will likely stem from San Tan Charter’s move to the 2A Conference in the Arizona Interscholastic Association. Previously, the Roadrunners were part of the Canyon Athletic Association, the smaller of the two organizations responsible for overseeing high school sports in the state.
“I can’t explain how fun this is,” Revling said. “The girls love the decorating, the painting, just spending time together. They really enjoy it because it brings us closer to our community. And tying this whole thing in with our football program is in the very near future.”
Revling said she sends out an email to students and staff at San Tan Charter every year to see if they know anyone battling breast cancer. The two individuals chosen this year both happen to be educators at nearby schools. Both were diagnosed recently.
Pictures of the two are also included with the decorations in the gym, including background information. Revling said the funds raised will be divided in half and presented to both of them at halftime of an upcoming basketball game this winter.
“I can’t even explain how awesome it is for everyone to wear pink and watch the faces of the families when we present them money for medical bills,” Revling said. “It’s the best.”
Revling said all of her players pitch in to help decorate and make the Dig Pink Fundraiser a success. The argument could also be made the team plays best when wearing the special pink uniforms Revling purchased for them a couple of years ago.
In the month of October, the Roadrunners went 8-3 overall, losing to two of the top teams in 2A – one of which on two separate occasions. At 12-4 overall as of Wednesday, San Tan Charter is currently ranked 12th in the 2A Conference. That would mean a trip to the play-in tournament in the school’s first season in the AIA.
“I lost six seniors last year so this season we were kind of in a rebuild,” Revling said. “I always laugh and say there is a volleyball God around me who gives me these amazing athletes that love to work together.”
No matter how the season unfolds for San Tan Charter’s volleyball program, Revling remains proud of her girls’ ambition to continue on the month-long Dig Pink Fundraiser.
That alone means more to her than how the team ends the season. They’ve all come together for a good cause and truly have made a difference in the lives of two individuals battling through an illness during a global pandemic.
Even if the funds cover only a small portion of the medical costs for treatment, it will make a difference. Revling fought back emotions thinking about the impact her and her team have made and will continue to make on those who may need support now more than ever.
“You never know what the person next to you is going through,” Revling said. “I had no idea through the quiet what a storm we are making. Truly, it’s incredible.”