Area volleyball teams raise funds to fight cancer

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The Lighted Lantern Launch raises funds to fight against cancer. It also enhances a sense of community and togetherness for Prairie du Chien area families. (Photos submitted)

The River Ridge volleyball team raised more than $500 to donate to the Grant County Cancer Coalition during Pink Night.

By Ted Pennekamp


To raise awareness and to combat breast cancer, numerous high school volleyball teams from throughout Wisconsin have held “Pink Nights” for several years. Two  area high schools who hold Pink Nights include Prairie du Chien and River Ridge.

“This year we raised money for Kayla Mezera’s family and awareness for radon in our area,” said Prairie du Chien Coach Josh Smelzer. “Between the Lighted Lantern Launch (LLL) and Pink Night, we raised $2,339. We raised $1,425 during the LLL. For the LLL, my wife Christi and I, Mark and Christine Seeley, and Levi and Stacy Blackburn were the organizers of the event. On the day of the LLL, Mark and Christine Seeley directed the event while the Blackburn family and Smelzer family helped with sales, guiding people, and helping with the organization of the event. Levi Blackburn also made an honor wall for people to write their loved one’s names on for whom they purchased the lantern in honor of. Don Knapp, Holly and Sheldon Tanner, Levi and Noah Blackburn, Jackson Smelzer and Madi Fisher were the lantern lighters for the launch, as well as some of the Mezera family members. 

The volleyball team helped during the LLL by helping with sales, guiding people on where to go, helping light the lanterns, and cleaning up when it was over. They also shot a video and posted that on social media to raise awareness. 

“On Pink night, we raised $914. We had 10 baskets donated to be auctioned off. We also sold T-shirts, bracelets, glow sticks, and wristbands and we had a 50/50 raffle. Coach Paige Rickleff helped my wife, Christi, and I with organizing Pink Night and getting donations. We had a great support staff from our team moms to help out with sales and working the auction tables on Pink Night.” 

River Ridge

The River Ridge volleyball team held its Pink Night on Oct. 4 in its match against visiting Benton. The team raised more than $500 at this season’s Pink Night.

“We send our money to the Grant County Cancer Coalition every year,” said River Ridge Coach Diane Langmeier. “We sell shirts each year. Our team captains do all the designing of the shirts, sell the shirts, and distribute them. Our community has supported this cause greatly for over 10 years now.”

Raising funds for cancer research and awareness became especially poignant for the River Ridge volleyball team and their fans recently.

During their regional match against Darlington on Oct. 20, the River Ridge Lady Timberwolves ran out through a banner that read, “No One Fights Alone,”  and #ToughlikeTom,” before the match started in support of Coach Dianne Langmeier’s husband who had been diagnosed with brain cancer earlier in the week. The stands were also filled with supporters who wore gray in support of brain cancer awareness.

“It really helps tremendously to have the love and support at a difficult time, and  my team, assistant coaches, and this community have outdone themselves!” said Langmeier. “Thank you all!

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