ST. CLAIR — Last Friday, the St. Clair boys basketball team was scheduled to celebrate its annual Coaches vs. Cancer fund-raising event during a game against Medford, but the death of former Cyclones player Neal Lang, who had battled cancer for more than a year, forced a postponement until today.
It also made the event more real.
“This is the third year we’ve done this, and it has a little different feel to it this year,” St. Clair coach Charlie Freitag said. “It’s going to be tough, but maybe it will help us move on.”
Lang died on Friday morning, and his funeral was Monday. The Cyclones canceled games both nights and played Tuesday. Tonight, the opponent is Medford, but the focus is on raising money and awareness for cancer research.
“The first year, we raised about $900, and this year, we hope to top $15,000,” Freitag said. “The local businesses have really stepped up, and it’s really caught on at the school.”
Around school, people can buy $1 paper cutouts that have lined the gym walls for the last three weeks, and Freitag said that about 2,500 have been sold.
About 40 businesses have pledged $1, $2 or $3 per point scored in tonight’s game. Freitag said that last year, businesses combined to pledge $23 per point, but that total is up to $70 per point tonight, as businesses from Mankato, Madison Lake and Waterville have joined the St. Clair effort.
The Medford team has also joined the fund-raising effort, and both teams will wear pink shoelaces and wrist bands to show support.
According to American Cancer Society staff partner Rick Jeddeloh, the St. Clair fund-raiser will be the largest for any high school in southern Minnesota.
Key stretch for St. Peter
The St. Peter girls are 15-3, but coach Bob Southworth said that he’ll find out how good his team is during the next 10 days.