MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Last Saturday, the WVU football team opened its season with a battle against the Missouri Tigers. You may have noticed the fresh WVU125 decals featured on each side of the Mountaineers’ helmets, but did you notice the gold ribbon sticker displayed on the back?
The gold ribbon is a symbol often used to honor those who are fighting or have fought a much larger battle than a football game: the battle against childhood cancer.
In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (September), the WVU football team has partnered with WV KIDS Cancer Crusaders in support of the thousands of children and their families impacted by childhood cancers across the state and around the world each year.
“September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and West Virginia has been hit very hard in the past few years,” said the organizations co-founder and president, Kelly Wymer, whose daughter is a cancer survivor.
The WV KIDS Cancer Crusaders prioritize in providing financial assistance (including travel expenses, food costs, and whatever else a child may need following a diagnosis) to the families impacted. In an effort to create a greater awareness for the cause, Wymer and other members of the Crusaders set out on a mission to effectively reach a large number of people.
Along came the idea of helmet stickers.
The process of getting the stickers onto WVU’s helmets began with former head football coach Don Nehlen. Nehlen then took the Crusaders’ idea to current head coach Dana Holgorsen, who happily approved. Not only did Holgorsen approve, but he also insisted that the stickers first be worn when WVU’s uniform combo included white helmets, allowing the gold ribbon to stick out to the crowd (of 60,125 fans) and to the audience watching on TV.
“They were originally going to wear (the stickers) this coming Saturday, but Holgorsen wanted to put them on the white helmets so they would show up since it was going to be nationally televised, so that helped us,” Wymer said.
Wymer was in awe when she turned on her TV and saw a big-time college football team supporting a cause near and dear to the hearts of so many by simply displaying a small gold ribbon on their helmets.
“The kids and the families were so grateful,” she said. “It’s really big for childhood cancer awareness. It was big for West Virginia. I was overwhelmed by it.”
Wymer added that other football teams across the state are also wearing the same gold ribbon stickers on their helmets during the month of September as well, including those at Marshall University, West Virginia Wesleyan and West Virginia State University.
You can learn more about the WV KIDS Cancer Crusaders by visiting their website at www.wvkidscc.org or by visiting their Facebook page (WV KIDS Cancer Crusaders).