Kurt Glendenning, the Cary High football coach, believes it is important for high school players to understand how fortunate they are to be healthy enough to play sports.
Chase Jones, the CEO of Vs. Cancer, thinks it is important for high school athletes to understand that they have a platform to help their communities.
The merger of the two – appreciation and influence – has resulted in the Cary High football team’s cancer awareness efforts during September.
The Imps are wearing gold socks in honor of Pediatric Cancer Month. The team is seeking donations for cancer research and several players and Glendenning will shave their heads on Friday as part of a fund-raising effort.
“I think essentially every player on our team has been touched by cancer through a parent, friend, brother, sister, neice or nephew,” Glendenning said. “I want our players to know they can help our community and help people, especially children.
“You don’t think of little children having cancer, but they do. If our players can help a child by wearing a T-shirt or shaving their head, we ought to do it.”
Jones, who had a brain tumor when he was a freshman at the University of North Carolina in 2006, started Vs. Cancer about 18 months ago. His idea was have athletic teams do something to raise cancer awareness and perhaps raise funds.
The group has involved teams, mostly baseball teams, from Cary to Santa Clara, Calif. Vs. Cancer raised more than $470,00 last year and expects to top $1 million this year.
Part of the money the Cary football team raised last year helped fund a staff position at the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.
“Cary High School is making a difference in children’s lives,” Jones said. “Half of what is raised goes to national cancer research and the other half to a local hospital, in Cary’s case North Carolina Children’s.”
Glendenning’s daughter, Kelly, volunteers at the hospital.
“She said you get a new perspective when one of the little children who is there doesn’t make it to the next week,” Glendenning said.
Jones, a Jamestown Ragsdale graduate who played baseball at UNC, said he had no idea when he was 18 years old that he had any influence on anyone.
“But high school athletes can have an impact on other people,” he said. “This program taps in to that influence.”
Glendenning’s father, Ansel, started the football and wrestling programs at Ravenscroft and coached at Durham Hillside, Apex and Enloe. He is now battling pancreatic cancer.
“It is a disease that touches all of us,” Kurt Glendenning said.