Michelle Conroy and Kirby Bowman
The Southern Ohio Copperheads is partnering with Turn it Gold, Passion Works Studio, and Precision Imprints to host a Turn it Gold game on Wednesday, June 22, at 7 p.m. at Bob Wren Stadium at Ohio University.
Gold is the official ribbon color for childhood cancer awareness. Turn it Gold is a national non-profit whose mission is to elevate childhood cancer awareness to change the percentage of dollars invested in childhood cancer research. Passion Works is a non-profit collaborative making space in Athens, Ohio, that fosters inclusion, connection, purpose, and belonging with people of varying abilities. Precision Imprints is a locally owned and operated screen printing and embroidery company located in Athens.
“We are a community-owned and student-operated organization and are honored to stand in solidarity with families and communities impacted by childhood cancer,” said Annie Valeant, executive director of the Southern Ohio Copperheads. “All revenue generated by ticket sales will be donated to the family of Kyle Rutter, a teenager from The Plains currently undergoing treatment. Thanks to our partner, Precision Imprints, the customized Turn it Gold Copperheads Jerseys will be auctioned off and proceeds will be donated to Turn it Gold. And Passion Works Studio will be on site to sell its Turn it Gold with Passion merchandise line with 20 percent of the proceeds donated to Turn it Gold.”
Rutter and his family will be honored during the seventh-inning stretch. At the end of his sophomore year, Rutter was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma after the discovery of a tumor in his leg. After nine months of chemotherapy and several surgeries, Kyle had no evidence of disease for one year. One month ago, Kyle learned that his cancer had returned. His treatment plan includes a year of chemotherapy and radiation.
Prior to his diagnosis, Kyle enjoyed playing football, basketball, and baseball. Now he enjoys hanging out with his friends, hunting, fishing, and playing video games.
“Kyle is the strongest person I know. He is my true hero,” Rutter’s mom, Jessica, said. “You don’t know what strength is until you see your child battle such a terrible disease and still smile along the way.”
Turn it Gold is transforming the landscape of cancer care through its platform of athletic activism.
“We look to athletes for inspiration,” said Angela Dina, co-founder and executive director of Turn it Gold. “Peak performances on the field demands hard work, teamwork, and perseverance. These same qualities are vital in the fight to end childhood cancer. We are honored to partner with the Southern Ohio Copperheads as its players take the field to help strike out childhood cancer.”
For seven years, Passion Works Studio has collaborated with Turn it Gold to turn the community and region gold, including murals on the Valero station and at the drive-thru at Larry’s Dawg House. Patty Mitchell, executive Director of Passion Works Studio, described its partnership with Turn it Gold as “a meaningful adventure which has amplified the mission of both organizations. Through the collaborative artwork of individuals with and without developmental differences, we raise awareness about a hard life experience through whimsical imagery and bold colors. Each gold flower represents the lives of kids and families impacted by childhood cancer.”
The partnerships between Turn it Gold, Passion Works, and athletic teams in Athens County are coordinated by Lynn Harter, Ph.D., a professor and co-director of the Barbara Geralds Institute for Storytelling and Social Impact. Harter has been involved with the Houston-based non-profit since co-producing and directing the documentary, along with Evan Shaw, Realistically Ever After: A Turn it Gold Movement. The film profiles the efforts of Turn it Gold as it collaborates with universities and communities across the nation. The film is distributed by PBS affiliates across the nation and is available on Amazon Prime.
To learn more about the Turn it Gold with Passion initiative, view this digital story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZ2X-wF8rH4.