Monday, December 6, 2021

Optimist Club Breast Cancer Awareness Through Kids Sports



By Meghan Bonos

Sometimes the game is not about winning or losing. The lessons of life are more important than what can be learned on the field. The Optimist Club of Marco Island (OCMI) continued its breast cancer awareness campaign to educate kids and families about the importance of this disease. Throughout the month, parents and kids were encouraged to participate in the organization’s “Pink Out” at sporting events and community gatherings.

For the second year, OCMI participated in the Kick-or-Treat Soccer Tournament held by the Lee County Youth Soccer League. Opting out of wearing a Halloween costume, the players dressed in pink – from glittered pink hair to pink jerseys and socks – to show their support for the cause. “We feel it’s important to recognize this for our kids and families. We have survivors in our community that should be celebrated, as

Jayme Lowe styles Jillian Cartwright’s hair. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Jayme Lowe styles Jillian Cartwright’s hair. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

well as player’s moms who have been diagnosed. We’re a strong community within OCMI to support them. It can affect anyone, and we want them to ask their mom, aunt or relatives if they have been checked because we all want them to be around,” commented Lyndsi Koszo, soccer director.

Emulating their NFL heroes, the OCMI flag football players have donned pink bandanas and wristbands with pink eye black and tattoos. The month kicked off with their very own “Pink Out” on the fields as well. “We all watch the NFL on Sunday and the kids see the pink armbands and towels, and they want to know about it. It’s important to us to develop athletes, but even more important to shape these great kids. Raising this awareness helps them to understand what many people face, and that’s an important fact of life,”

Sydney Koszo scores a goal.

Sydney Koszo scores a goal.

stated Bob Bruni, director of flag football.

“What is amazing is the kids’ understanding and willingness to help bring attention to this. We participated in the Spooktacular event at Mackle Park, and the kids opted for the “Pink Out” again, instead of wearing their favorite Halloween costume. They love being a part of something so special and know it brings us together,” added Missy Ryan, Optimist Club board member. While the kids didn’t win “Best in Show,” they did get a special call out from the parks department for their efforts.

As the month of awareness draws to a close, OCMI will continue throughout the season to focus on more than athletic skills. “Our philosophy focuses on building leadership and teamwork skills, as well as character development. We want to help these kids become great well-rounded kids, not just great athletes,” added Meg Bonos, Optimist Club president.


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