Column: Pink Arrow Pride makes ArtPrize debut


Courtesy of Mlive

Meghan Landgren, Photo Editor

Each year for the past fourteen years, my alma mater has brought the entire community together for one night and one night only. Thousands and thousands of people come together underneath the Friday night lights at Bob Perry Field to raise awareness for something much larger than us. 

In 2008, the Lowell High School football coach at the time, Noel Dean, came up with the idea to turn our Red Arrows pink in an effort to raise money and awareness for those who have been affected by cancer. 

The concept was simple. A football game is played, with pink jerseys that honor loved ones who died, survived, or are currently fighting cancer, thousands of pink thundersticks roar in the air, and the entire stadium turns into a massive sea of pink. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers and members of the community, Pink Arrow raised $93,000 to give to charities its first year. 

Since then, Pink Arrow Pride has not only brought more awareness to cancer and how it has impacted our community, but demonstrates the important values of family, kindness, service, and community. Simply put, there is more to life than winning a silly high school football game. 

Over the last fourteen years, their main focus has been to continue raising awareness in an effort to find a treatment and cure for cancer. A question to consider, how have they been raising awareness for something so powerful?

Every year, the Pink Arrow Pride Project designs pink T-shirts that are sold to the community. The unique thing about these shirts is that every single year is a different shade of pink. These shirts are sold for $20 as tickets for not only the Pink Arrow football game, but the Pink Arrow soccer and volleyball games as well. Those proceeds are then given to charities and cancer research. 

In the hours leading up to kickoff, so many activities are set up around the outside lawn of the stadium. There are food trucks, live bands, ninja courses, bounce houses, and so much more. The most significant one is the honoree parade.

The honoree parade is an event where members of the Lowell community with loved ones who have been affected by cancer are invited to walk down the hill with our band, football team and cheerleaders. Once they get to the gates of the stadium, the parade makes an entire lap around the track, honoring those who have or are currently suffering this awful disease. 

Before the game actually starts, the cheerleaders and football players line up along the field, hand-in-hand with the individuals or family members of those individuals they are honoring on the backs of their jerseys. After the game concludes, the football team then presents those jerseys to their honorees and their families.

On its fourteenth anniversary, members of the Pink Arrow Pride Project and Lowell High School wanted to do something different to celebrate this sensational event: ArtPrize. 

Sometime last year, Lowell High School Spanish teacher Sarah Ellis sat around pondering the thought of creating something dedicated to unifying the community. What started as an idea focused on diversity and inclusion turned into a project centered around hopes and dreams.

When first formulating this idea, Ellis was initially leaning towards painting a mural. After giving it some thought she came up with an idea that felt more close to home: the pink arrow shirts. 

“We had a lot of divisiveness in town,” Ellis said. “So we were trying to come up with an idea that could unify everybody, and so the thought of utilizing the pink shirts from pink arrow years past came to mind.”

This project is titled “Dreams Intertwined,” a tapestry made entirely out of strips of donated pink arrow T-shirts. 

At the beginning of the school year, students and members of the Lowell community were invited to write down their hopes and dreams on a strip of fabric. These strips were then taken and woven together to create this homegrown masterpiece at this year’s Pink Arrow game. 

“It’s a collection of essentially the title of dreams intertwined and kind of lifting up the idea of what Lowell has done well together and that is Pink Arrow,” Ellis said. 

As one can imagine, this idea took some time and coordination to make a reality. Ellis reached out to the Pink Arrow Committee who absolutely loved the idea as it stood for the same values as the Pink Arrow Pride Project as a whole. From there, she took her idea to the community to get as many people involved as possible. 

“I just kind of put it out there to people who know what they’re doing I guess,” Ellis said. “Of course then we started getting it into Facebook pages, and then getting it into the Lowell Ledger and Lowell’s First Look, and then they would also talk about it at the concert series LowellArts put on.”

So, the big question here is what was behind the decision to submit this art piece to ArtPrize? As someone who has participated in ArtPrize before, Ellis wanted to share her experiences with others. 

“In 2017, I submitted something to ArtPrize and it was a really great experience,” Ellis said. “I needed something selfishly to look forward to, and I know others definitely were probably feeling the same way, so how about we enter?” 

One of the goals for putting this project on display at ArtPrize was to show others what the Lowell community is all about and what we do well together. During ArtPrize, visitors were also encouraged to write down their own hopes and dreams for students to add to the tapestry at the end of the competition. 

“Just being a part of Pink Arrow is so rewarding, and I hope that people see how much it means for so many people,” Ellis said. “I hope that this shows the strength of the community and the good of the community in what we can do together.” 

Ellis and members of the Pink Arrow Committee are already looking ahead to what unique art project they can come up with and put together for next year’s Pink Arrow fundraiser. 

As someone who grew up with this project and graduated from this dedicated community, it warms my heart to see it being brought to a larger stage in a whole new light. I hope others pick up on our values and learn to appreciate them as much as I do. If the Lowell community is able to come together and create something as inspiring as this, I very much look forward to the amazing things we can come up with and accomplish in the future.