A moment of silence rang through Sanford Stadium as Wendy Anderson, Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson’s wife, was honored on Saturday before Georgia's game against Arkansas State.
Anderson lost his wife to breast cancer just last month. The night of Aug. 19 marked the end of her hard-fought battle through chemo and the disease. She was first diagnosed in 2017, recovered, then got sick again — this time, to a point where it was unrecoverable.
Anderson was greeted by a stadium full of pink on Saturday in Athens.
“For our group to show out and wear the pink like they did I thought it was an incredible testament to our fans humanity and just the power of sports,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “Putting a stadium together to wear pink in honor of an opposing team’s coach’s wife, I think that’s honorable. I appreciate people doing that.”
Anderson took a leave of absence from coaching until Sept. 7 and made an appearance on the sidelines for the first time last week in the Red Wolves' 47-13 victory over the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He surprised his team, as they were not expecting him back until the game at Georgia.
Through social media campaigns, the hashtag #WearPinkForWendy and word of mouth, the Georgia faithful painted the stands pink on Saturday. Fans, decked out in pink and breast cancer ribbons, rallied behind Anderson through his tragedy and story.
Those in participation were reminded that life is much bigger, sometimes, than football.
“You absolutely wear pink to bring awareness to breast cancer and bring it to Georgia,” Georgia fan and active military member Michael Thomas said.
Brant White, a Georgia student, realized he did not have a pink top to wear into the game. This morning, he went to a tailgate to buy a T-shirt that the Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer group was selling.
“It’s amazing to see how many people actually showed up and are wearing pink. It just shows how much impact we have both in the sports world and just overall,” White said. “I can’t imagine what [Anderson is] going through and just to be able to show that we support him in any way, shape or form, I think speaks volumes.”
For some people, the awareness goes deeper than the game. Patricia Dixon is from Vidalia, Georgia, and lost her mother to a battle with breast cancer. Dixon has been a long time supporter of Georgia football.
“[This game is] very special and very dear to my heart,” Dixon said. “In fact, it kind of gives me cold chills just seeing it all.”
Anderson was given a set of pink, spiked pads, and he was seen walking out of the stadium with the gift in hand.
“Publicly, I would like to say thank you for all who showed up today wearing pink or thinking pink,” Anderson said. “Those people didn’t know my wife, and they don’t know me. They didn’t have to do it, and I’m very grateful, honored and honestly overwhelmed.”