Flashes prepare to host annual Pink Meet

Scott Lendak

When Kent State gymnastics takes the floor on Sunday, senior Jordan Hardison won’t recognize her father for his gold overalls and blue hair, but for his fight against cancer.

Since 2008, the gymnastics team has dedicated one home meet each season to raise awareness for breast cancer.

“My dad has been so supportive and he comes to all of my meets,” Hardison said. “He is the one in the crowd that looks like a clown dressed in blue and gold overalls.”

Two years ago, Hardison found out that her father, Leonard, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, he has gotten surgery and has been cleared for over a year.

“It’s really awesome that this event is being held,” Hardison said. “I love that we give awareness about breast cancer and the different support systems you can get from it.”

Hardison said that her dad is her biggest fan.

“He doesn’t really know a lot about gymnastics, so everything he sees looks amazing to him,” Hardison said with a smile on her face. “He’ll always tell me I did a great job even if I didn’t do good that day.”

Leonard, as well as other breast cancer survivors, will be honored prior to Sunday’s meet.

“Especially for me, it’s important that men get recognized too,” Hardison said. “Some people think that only women get it, but I found out myself that it could happen to anybody.”

The gymnasts will compete in pink leotards and fans are encouraged to wear pink as well. Proceeds from the meet will go to the Central Ohio Surgical  Associates Inc. (COSA) Comprehensive Breast Center for the COSA CARES program. 

Junior nursing major Michaela Romito said it’s terrible to learn about how the disease affects peoples’ lives.

“It’s not just the disease itself, but the stuff that the survivors had to go through,” Romito said. “Learning about the chemo and radiation is just terrible.”

“It’s all about raising awareness and getting people to realize how it affects people and their families,” Romito said. ”Hopefully we can raise a lot of money for other people because it’s a really awesome cause.”

The Flashes will host Central Michigan on Sunday, and they will be looking to win for a second straight year. The two teams are currently tied in the Mid-American Conference standings.

Hardison said that it will be a challenge to keep focused on the meet with all the emotions.

“In order to stay focused we’ll just have to do what we normally do,” Hardison said. “It’s our annual Pink Meet against our big rival, so we really want to win. It’s going to be a big crowd, but we have to do our best to stay calm.”

Romito also said that it is an important meet, so the team has to stay within themselves.

“We’ve had a lot of meets with distractions, so I think our team is used to it by now,” Romito said. “Central is always our big meet and it would be a huge deal for us to win. A win would build our confidence.”

The meet will begin Sunday at 1 p.m. in the M.A.C. Center. Fans will have the chance to buy raffle tickets and t-shirts in support of the cause.

Scott Lendak is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected]