Falcons & Kenmore West track teams racing for awareness
By David Yarger
When it comes to giving back to the community and raising awareness of certain causes, Niagara-Wheatfield High School has stayed first-class.
The Falcons track team, along with the squad from Kenmore West, will host a “Race for Hope” track meet at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7 at Terry Harvey Field on the N-WHS campus.
The race will bring awareness to breast cancer, which has touched several lives on both squads, in addition to celebrating the “bell ringing” cancer survivors and their fights.
Falcons track and field coach Alan Pogel said his team will be decked out in pink T-shirts for warm ups to go along with pink socks and pink ribbons, amongst other apparel.
“The stadium will be loaded with pink,” Pogel said. “We have a real strong relationship with Kenmore and they were fully on board to join us. They really wanted to be a part of this. This is a real life track meet, while bringing awareness to this cause.”
In addition to a competitive Niagara Frontier League track meet, the event will host a 50/50 raffle, basket auction and a bake sale. For entry, there is a $2 donation. All the proceeds from the event will go toward Roswell Park, which “fund cutting-edge cancer research and compassionate quality-of-life programs for our patients. Your support helps us find cancer cures and save lives,” the website said.
“We want everyone to know why we’re doing this,” Pogel said. “It’s to partly celebrate the bell ringers and partly bring awareness to breast cancer.”
Pogel, during a phone interview Monday, added there will be a “giant” banner that proclaims “Race for Hope” at the event.
The idea for the event came from some of the Falcons’ track team members, Pogel said.
“It was prompted within the program,” Pogel said. “Some of the bell ringing mothers received treatment and are doing well. We want to celebrate them, raise awareness and thank Roswell Park for all they do.”
The moment to watch will take place around 4:30 p.m., as Pogel said both teams, along with cancer fighters and survivors, will walk as one holding the “Race for Hope” banner. Pogel noted he’s “very anxious” for the event.
This type of “cause” event is one of several that have occurred at Niagara-Wheatfield over some time.
During basketball season, the school hosted “Pink-out” nights in 2018, as well as the start of 2019, to honor those who are dealing and have dealt with breast cancer; the girls basketball team, in 2018, raised money for the American Diabetes Association; and a Bald For Bucks basketball game between faculty and the Buffalo Sabres Alumni raised money in honor of the late James Campell.
Those events are just noting a few of the many that have occurred.
For Pogel, he said there’s a tradition of giving and raising awareness like no other at N-W.
“We’re very proud at this school. All of us are proud of that tradition we have. It tells you a bit about the community and where there hearts are,” Pogel said.
The school’s National Honor Society will also host a fundraiser for Niagara Hospice on Saturday, May 4. Pogel said it’s impressive how the school will pull off two of these cause events within four days of each other.
Those looking to pitch in and help for the event still have time. One with interest in donating to the cause with gift cards or baskets, and those interested in volunteering some work hours are encouraged to contact the high school at 215-3100 and ask for Pogel, or call the Athletics Office at 215-3616.
What can attendees expect come Tuesday? Pogel predicted the atmosphere in one word: electric.
“This is two proud programs competing and working together to raise awareness,” Pogel said. “This is the epitome of sportsmanship. One can expect great athletics plus great sportsmanship working together. … And lots of pink.”
Pogel welcomes the community to come out, wear pink, and enjoy the track meet between the two programs, while also giving back to a great cause.