Cancer touches nearly all of us in one way or another.
The community of St. Clair knows that all too well and they've come together in a big way to fight the disease.
Their boys' basketball team's annual Coaches Vs Cancer event happening this Thursday night has grown to be the biggest in the state.
Here's a look at why and how you can still join their winning team.
Imagine bleachers pulled out and packed with fans, the walls covered in die cuts
purchased in support of someone fighting cancer or lost to it and a scoreboard reflecting buckets and dollars: all for Coaches Vs Cancer.
Joe Bruels, a St. Clair Senior says, "It's much more than a game for us. We've been so affected by cancer in the past and it's a way for us to honor those who have fought the disease."
The young man, an entire family really, at the heart of this community's Coaches Vs Cancer efforts: Neal Lang, Number 33. Diagnosed with cancer two weeks before the start of his senior year season in 2012, he died at the age of 19 and was buried one year ago today.
Coach Charlie Freitag says, "The Lang's have been very private. The event has never been specifically about them and they've requested that. But talk about a family who deserves the support. They'll do anything for us. The dad, Jerome, is always a coach at the youth level. He's volunteered his time and that's the kind of family that they are."
That's why the thousands raised here Thursday night will go to the local chapter of the American Cancer Society on their behalf.
It's an event in its fourth year now. Down to the players' pink shoelaces, it's become a tradition here.
So much so St. Clair ranks seventh in the nation and was even awarded the
American Cancer Society's Regional School of Hope award last fall.
Coach Charlie Freitag says, "You don't want to play with emotions, but, boy, you walk into a gym, especially last year the game we had. We were down 20 and I think we won by 15. There's a ton of emotion, ton of energy."
In listening to the players, it's apparent it's no accident in this gym there's a Relay for Life sign behind the basketball hoop as the team practices for the big game.
Bruels says, "Look farther past the scoreboard. Even if we win or lose, we're doing a good thing for everyone."
St. Clair Senior Tyler Fandrich says, "It's just cool, like I said, having the energy really high. Just puts a lot of pressure on us to score a lot of points to raise a lot of money. In the end, it doesn't really matter, it's just the fact that we're doing this."
A game will be played here Thursday night, but the money raised will mean more and the lessons will undoubtedly last a lifetime.
The sister of the young man mentioned in this story who lost his battle with cancer...is now battling cancer herself.
At 7:30 Thursday night St. Clair Cyclones take on the Minnesota Lutheran Chargers at home.
Their fundraising goal is T$30,000.
Last year they raised over $20,000.
And over half of that was raised with their business point match. Businesses can donate one, two or three dollars per point scored by either team.
If interested we've got contact info right here:
You can even hand the paperwork to Coach Freitag right before the game. He says he doesn't mind the distraction on a Coaches Vs Cancer game night.