Snellville Mayor’s Cup... South vs. Brookwood in a quest for awareness
By Beth Volpert Johansen
The Mayor’s Cup is a symbol of a football rivalry between two Snellville high schools, South Gwinnett and Brookwood.
The award is also becoming a symbol of how the two schools can find a common bond in the battle to bring the opponent called cancer to defeat.
Historically, the origins of the Snellville Mayor’s Cup began with former mayor, Jerry Oberholtzer who spent many hours in the stands watching his three sons in the Brookwood Marching Band. “I had the idea and asked both principals at the time,” says Oberholtzer. “We decided it would be fun and made sure it stayed a friendly competition.” Oberholtzer likes the idea of the two teams uniting against a common enemy while competing for the cup. “This game is important for uniting the city,” says Oberholtzer. “It is a positive way to highlight both schools and raise awareness for the fight against cancer.”
The 2015 Snellville Mayor’s Cup game will take place at Brookwood High School where the Broncos will host the Comets in the yearly game for the right to take home the trophy. The game, in accordance with the Georgia High School Association’s “Blue Week” for prostate cancer awareness will feature a “Blue-Out”. Students are encouraged to wear blue to bring awareness to a cancer that few are willing to talk about.
In addition to the “Blue-Out”, both schools are committed to participate in the Whip Childhood Cancer efforts by the Amanda Riley Foundation. Amanda Riley, a Brookwood student, lost her battle with cancer in April of 2010. Fundraising efforts through the foundation’s website include a variety of ways to support the efforts to increase awareness of what Childhood Cancer symptoms look like.
“We are taking orders for special shirts and the schools are being creative about how they are raising funds,” says Barbara Riley, Amanda’s mother. “We have had so much support throughout the community, especially from the schools.” That support, by students, is important to Barbara as she knows first-hand how difficult facing Childhood Cancer is. Blue shirts are available for purchase to wear at the Snellville Mayor’s Cup game. The shirts are not only a symbol of awareness for prostate cancer, but also feature the gold ribbon that has come to symbolize the fight for awareness of Childhood Cancers.
Mayor Kelly Kautz is excited to watch both schools play a great game at her alma mater, Brookwood. “Every year I’ve been mayor, its gone to South,” says Mayor Kautz. “Brookwood tells me they are going to win this game this year.” To help the two schools promote cancer awareness, Mayor Kautz has proclaimed September 12th as Amanda Riley Day in Snellville. “I don’t think there is a single person you can ask who hasn’t been affected by cancer,” says Mayor Kautz. “My young neighbor, Peyton Greene, is just 4 years old and has cancer.” Mayor Kautz goes on to say, “Peyton is so young and innocent, but she always has a smile on her face despite the horrific treatments.”
According to young Peyton’s dad, O.J., those treatments take a huge toll on families of the children fighting one of the many forms of Childhood Cancer. “Each day, 46 children are diagnosed with childhood cancer and 7 children will lose their battle,” says O.J. “We have to raise awareness because parents don’t know the symptoms to look for.” O.J. says that the symptoms are easily explained away. “You blame nosebleeds on a dry winter house; leg bruises on a toddler learning to walk; lethargy on a cold,” says O.J.. “It’s like Amanda Riley having back pain and blaming it on sports; there are so many ways to explain away the symptoms so it is important to bring awareness to recognizing Childhood Cancer.”
Brookwood’s rally behind the Amanda Riley Foundation’s “Whip Childhood Cancer” efforts come naturally since Amanda attended Brookwood. Their efforts throughout Snellville and Gwinnett County are getting noticed. According to South Gwinnett Associate Principal, Randolph Irvin, the Comets are enthusiastically behind the efforts to increase awareness of all types of cancer that can affect kids and their families. “I used to work at Brookwood and knew the young lady Amanda Riley,” says AP Irvin. “We can use the energy of the Mayor’s Cup game to generate something positive by bringing awareness to how serious and troubling cancer is.”
Both schools are stepping forward to raise awareness. The “Whip Childhood Cancer” pie challenges are part of a fund raising campaign that involves a pie to the face of certain teachers as incentive. There are many “Gold-Out” games in all fall sports planned for the month of September. T-shirts supporting the efforts can be found on the Amanda Riley Foundation website along with more information. Several businesses are also supporting the campaign throughout Snellville.
The annual Snellville Mayor’s Cup football game will take place on Friday, September 25th at Brookwood High School. Mayor Kautz will be in attendance to show support for the efforts of cancer awareness among the city’s youth. “Cancer doesn’t discriminate, “says Mayor Kautz. “I think a game like this goes a long way to foster a sense of community to rally for a good cause.”
For more information about the month-long efforts to increase awareness of Childhood Cancer, see: www.AmandaRileyFoundation.org. While you are there, check out the many ways to support the youth of the community.