University of Georgia fans and students are calling for a change in the usual gameday attire during Georgia’s matchup against Arkansas State — wearing pink instead of red and black.
The "pink out" is to honor the wife of Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson, Wendy Anderson, who died from breast cancer on Aug. 19.
At the start of the football season, Coffey said readers should hate the opponent that week. However, his article earlier this week was different, telling readers, “I don’t know how to hate a team that’s coached by a man who just lost his wife to breast cancer.”
The article drew the attention of fans, three in particular who pitched the idea to wear pink on Saturday’s game day to honor Anderson and his late wife. Coffey created a graphic with the slogan “#WearPinkForWendy” that went viral on social media.
One organization that gravitated toward the cause was Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer. BBBC was founded in 2005 by Jay and Teresa Abbott, the parents of former Georgia offensive lineman Chris Abbott, after Teresa’s breast cancer diagnosis in 2003.
With the help of UGA’s former football head coach Mark Richt, BBBC went on to organize an annual charity golf tournament at The Georgia Club where football players participated in fundraising, according to Abbott. The event continues to this day with funds donated to St. Mary’s Health Care System for breast cancer research.
“BBBC is about supporting women diagnosed with breast cancer, survivors and those who lose their battle,” Abbott said. “That’s why we started promoting the pink out.”
The organization’s support received a personal response from coach Anderson in a tweet where he said, “Beyond thankful… thank you.”
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart addressed Anderson’s loss during a Sept. 9 news conference.
“I can’t even begin to fathom or understand what he’s going through,” Smart said. “When I first heard the news, I was just crushed for him and his family and his kids. You can never imagine what he’s having to go through. That’s really tough.”
Though required to wear its traditional red uniforms while performing at games, UGA’s Redcoat Marching Band supported the “#WearPinkForWendy” cause by hosting a “pink out” rehearsal on Friday night.
“As a band we recognize the impact breast cancer has,” said Redcoat social chair Carlie Moore. “We wanted to make sure we showed our support for Coach Anderson’s family however we could.”
Local stores have joined the movement too — apparel shop University Spirit is selling pink “Go Dawgs #WearPinkForWendy” pins and “Saturday in Athens” shirts, with all proceeds from the sales going towards breast cancer research, according to the retailer.
Additionally, Athens sports radio station 960 The Ref plans to pass out free pink “#WearPinkForWendy” stickers at the UGA Bookstore before tomorrow’s game.
As gameday approaches and the support for the cause grows, Coffey is proud of football’s power to bring people together.
“My hope is that during the 3 and-a-half-hour game, coach Anderson gets a reprieve from his pain,” Coffey said. “I hope he feels the support of thousands in Sanford Stadium.”
In an interview on ESPN’s The Paul Finebaum Show, Anderson expressed his gratitude for UGA’s support. When he received the message about the “pink out” plans yesterday, it brought him to tears, Anderson said.
Everything is “very raw,” Anderson added, but in the midst of their tragedy, the support from UGA has been “overwhelming.”
“I’m appreciative and I do think it’s a cool, very classy gesture by somebody who didn’t really have anything to gain from it.” Anderson said. “They’re doing it out of the kindness of their heart and we appreciate it.”