ANSONIA – As the Tigers and Blackhawks set to battle it out on the gridiron in the annual Pink Out game Friday night, the story behind the friendly rivalry has a much deeper meaning than just the final score.
“As I sorted and handed out Pink Out shirts Wednesday night, it made me wonder if the parents and students purchasing them had any idea why we do a pink out game,” said Amy Schlarman. “I wondered if they had ever heard the story of the amazing Ansonia student that was the reason that the annual tradition was started in 2010…my daughter Kirsten Marie Schlarman.”
At only 10 years old, Kirsten was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) just two days before she was to begin 5th grade at Ansonia Elementary. According to her mother Amy, after countless treatments and surgery on her leg and knee, Kirsten had to completely learn how to walk all over again…and would never be able to run or jump like a youthful little girls is supposed to.
For well over three years, she battled this cruel disease – losing her hair not once, not twice, but three times. The cancer ended up spreading to Kirsten’s lungs and brain, but through it all she kept a positive outlook and never complained.
“I remember thinking, how can she be so happy all of the time when she has to be in so much pain,” Amy Schlarman added. “Kirsten’s faith and outlook on life was unbelievable and she rarely complained…always found a silver lining to any situation.”
“She worried more about how her siblings and other loved ones were going to handle everything than how she was going to handle everything,” she continued. “This girl was just amazing!”
When Kirsten went on Hospice care in January 2010, the Ansonia and Mississinawa Valley schools came together and arranged the first Pink Out game in support of Kirsten and her family. The first Pink Out game was held in February 2010, during basketball season.
“That night was amazing! All rivalries were put aside between the two schools and everyone came together for one very special girl,” noted Amy.
Less than 10 days later, 14-year-old Kirsten Marie Schlarman took her final breath, the date was February 18, 2010.
“As she left this world her last words were “don’t cry, I’m ok, miracles happen every day”. Again, I sat in awe of my unbelievably amazing daughter, a peace came over me as I realized that Kirsten had earned her angel wings, and my family and I had just gained the most amazing guardian angel,” she explained.
According to Ansonia Cheer Coach Kami Philipot, over $20,000 has been raised over the past eight years of the Pink Out fundraiser. The money comes from t-shirt sales and a raffle drawing at the game. All proceeds benefit local individuals or family who have or are “fighting the battle” themselves. This year’s recipients are MV graduate Sandy Greer and the late Shirley Turner, wife of Ansonia’s former police chief Roy Turner.
“This is feel good money and raised by two small communities pulling together and making something great happen at a Friday night football game,” Philipot stated.
“Kirsten’s father Bear and I are so proud to say that we are her parents…and oh what an honor it has been to raise such a special little soul,” concluded Amy Schlarman. “Thank you so much Kami Phlipot for continuing this awesome tradition and to the Ansonia and Mississinawa communities for continuing to help others through Kirsten. She would be so proud of us and loving every single minute of it all.”
Any remaining t-shirts will be available for purchase at Friday’s game and are $12 a piece.
See complete coverage from Friday’s Pink Out game at bluebagmedia.com/sports