Alyssa Leonard with friends (Photo: Holly Pennebaker)
ADAIRSVILLE, Ga. -- Adairsville Middle School students, faculty, parents and friends hit the football field on Friday morning for their annual Pink Out.
Pink Out 2012, according to Math teacher Christy Ridley, was recently made into an annual event to promote cancer awareness and to honor the people who are fighting cancer, specifically breast cancer, and those who have lost their battle with the disease.
"We are coordinating with local doctor's offices and businesses to invite all cancer survivors, including breast cancer survivors and caregivers to come out and join us," Ridley said.
Students lined up on the football field in a formation that spelled out the word "faith." Last year, the formation spelled "love" and was completed by 1800 students, teachers and members of the community.
Pink Out 2012 began with a welcoming from the Principal, Dr. Brian Knuchel. He said the students are taught that they can make a difference in the fight for a cancer cure, and that a lot of people in the community are affected.
"Our students at school today have parents, grandparents and great grandparents who went to this school," Knuchel said. "Our two goals for Pink Out are to spread awareness of cancer and the fight, and to prove to kids that they can help fight this disease."
Knuchel lost his grandmother to cancer four years ago.
"It hits me," he said. "Everyone has someone they know and everyone can relate. Everyone knows someone affected by cancer."
Tia Wilkes, a Reading teacher at AMS understands. She has also lost family because of cancer, and was a bit teary-eyed up at this morning's Pink Out.
"It's a big deal," Wilkes said of the event. "It's the one thing at the beginning of the school year that we know we're going to do. It's huge."
Alyssa Leonard was chosen to receive help from the Pink Out fundraiser. For eight years, she has lived with an inoperable brain stem glioma. Diagnosed when she was six-years-old, Alyssa began chemotherapy and has since taken on two brain surgeries, a tracheotomy and other risky procedures.
Today, Leonard is still receiving chemo treatments.
Thankful for Pink Out, Leonard's close friend Britni Doyle has started a support group and Facebook fan page for Leonard.
"Alyssa is a fighter," Doyle said, "We fully believe she will beat this cancer and go on to lead as normal a life as poosible."
According to Doyle, some of the most successful people today are those who have had to struggle for it.
She said, "Alyssa is struggling now, but there are brighter days ahead."