Concord tennis cancer event hits home for family of top singles player

CHS turning its Sept. 14 invitational into a fundraiser to support Elkhart Memorial student Sarah Crane.
Posted on Sept. 2, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Sept. 2, 2013 at 6:35 p.m.

Fundraiser will be held Sept. 14 in conjunction with Concord Invitational.

Anthony Anderson


DUNLAP — The inaugural #SMASHCANCER event being organized by the Concord High School boys tennis program isn’t hitting home for Judy Pollock simply because her son, Nick, happens to play No. 1 singles for the Minutemen.

More like because her 11-year-old daughter, LuLu, was diagnosed with kidney cancer when she was 6 years old.

But that’s kind of the point, according to Pollock, who is playing a lead role in organizing the Sept. 14 fundraiser that will take place in conjunction with the eight-team Concord Invitational.

“All the teams involved were so receptive, and it seems like they all have a story, too,” Pollock said. “It shows how many people are hit by cancer.”

The Pollocks’ own story took a sweet turn, as LuLu is in complete remission, according to her mom, but not every story turns in that direction.

Hence the effort planned at the Concord courts by coach Todd Denton’s Minutemen and company.

Proceeds will be split between the South Bend Memorial Hospital Pediatric Oncology Department and the Sarah Crane family.

Sarah Crane is an Elkhart Memorial sophomore battling stage four colon cancer. Upon being diagnosed in mid-July, 15-year-old Sarah was described as the youngest patient in the country to have the disease in stage four. Community response, in the form of a “Sarah Strong” campaign, has abounded in support of Sarah.

Pollock’s hoping the Concord tennis event, among other things, is a powerful one visually.

“When looking across the courts, we will see a rainbow of colors, and there will be nothing distinguishing one team from another team,” Pollock said, alluding to the invitational’s theme, which is “Teaming Up To Beat Cancer.”

More than two-dozen different colors of shirts, each representing a form of cancer, have been made available for sale to the participating teams.

Individuals typically pick a color with a specific person in mind.

Fans can order the $10 shirts in advance as well by contacting Pollock at pollockfam6@msn.com before Sept. 10. There will also be an opportunity to order shirts at the invitational, and wristbands will be available for sale at $1.

The #SMASHCANCER concept, featuring the variety of shirts, was born in the spring of 2012 when the Delta High School girls team turned its match against Yorktown into a fundraiser to fight cancer.

Since then, the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association has become involved and several matches around the state have been designated as #SMASHCANCER events, including a NorthWood at Concord girls match last spring.

The Concord boys hope for an even greater response by linking it to a larger event in the form of their 8:30 a.m. eight-team invite. Other schools involved are Jimtown, Penn, Marian, Westview, East Noble, Marian and Fort Wayne Snider.

The Minutemen will have a second #SMASHCANCER event when they host Northridge on Sept. 19.

“I can’t believe how responsive all the schools have been,” Pollock said. “I knew the local schools would get on board, but it’s been all of them.”

Besides the shirts and wristbands, a variety of vendors are expected to be on hand selling food, donating a percentage of proceeds and adding to the festive “tennis tailgate” atmosphere, as Pollock describes it.

For Pollock, it’s been easy to be involved.

“Our family supports Sarah and her family,” Pollock said. “We’ve been through this. So we do all we can do.”

It might be logical to suspect LuLu will be at the Sept. 14 event in orange, the color that represents kidney cancer, but Judy says her daughter wants to wear purple because it’s Sarah Crane’s favorite color and the one that has been associated with the “Sarah Strong” campaign.

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