By CALEB SLINKARD
If you visited the Morris Recreation Center on the Texas A&M University-Commerce campus from Oct. 1 to Oct. 3, odds are you saw men and women competing in a volleyball tournament featuring giant pink volleyballs.
No, pink volleyball is not a new intramural sport at A&M-Commerce. The students, faculty and community members were participating in the Big Pink Volleyball tournament, a fund-raiser that generated money for the Bridge Breast Network and the Jennifer Huie Scholarship fund.
Both are very worthy causes. The Bridge Breast Network provides access to diagnostic and treatment services for breast cancer to low income, uninsured and underinsured individuals in North Texas.
Jennifer Huie was the sister of University Police Department officer Lt. Jason Bone. She passed away in 2011 due to inflammatory breast cancer, and Jason began the fund in her honor.
“She was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer that usually isn’t diagnosed until it is in stage three or four,” Bone said. “She wanted to be a nurse so badly, but at least this way she’s going to be in the nursing field from now on. Her legacy is going to contribute to other nurses being out there.”
Before the tournament, Jason received the news that the scholarship was endowed.
“I was very happy to find out that the scholarship is now a permanent endowment at the university,” he said. “But we’re only halfway to the point where we can award it. I want to get to the point where it’s awarding to a student soon.”
The idea came to Commerce from Western Illinois University, where Assistant Director of Intramurals and Club Sports Kari Osborne received her graduate degree. Since it was started in 2002, the event has raised more than $115,000 nationwide for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and other breast cancer research organizations. The tournament came to A&M-Commerce last year and was well-attended this year.
“We had more than 400 people attend the event,” Jason said. “The Rec Center approached me about it this year because they heard about my sister’s scholarship fund. When they approached me, I was happy to do anything I could. It’s a great program, even if they weren’t supporting the fund. It’s a great program.”
The support the fund has received has been amazing, according to Jason.
“There are a lot of people donating to the fund, and I don’t even know who they are,” he said. “Many of them probably never met my sister. I’d like to personally thank all of them. I’m overwhelmed to think someone would donate to help someone they didn’t even know.”
Donations can be made via check to the Jen Huie Scholarship fund, in care of Texas A&M-Commerce Foundation, PO Box 3011 Commerce, 75429. According to Jason, the foundation will send the donor a receipt and the donations are tax deductible.