Posted by: allisonbarnes | January 20, 2011

UNC Gymnastics Teams Up with The Pink Pacers

The UNC Gymnastics Team with the Jr. Pink Pacers on January 8

Students have an array of feelings the Saturday before spring semester begins. Some dread the fact that classes start back up in 48 hours. Others are ready to get out of their parent’s house. And if you’re a senior like me, your mind is in a million different places. But while the majority of us were heading back to the Hill, the UNC Gymnastics team hit the mats. On Saturday January 8, the team hosted The Pink Pacers and Get REAL & HEEL to help raise awareness for cancer research.

The Pink Pacers is a local group of men and women who are dedicated to cancer research. The organization was created five years ago by Anne Neeley, a breast cancer survivor, and Katy Gilliam after they walked 39.3 miles in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. And today they continue their walk. In 2009 the group decided to team up with Get REAL & HEEL, another local group that is an after care breast cancer program.

The team invited the Jr. Pink Pacers, the children of The Pink Pacers, to be gymnasts for the day. Each Jr. Pacer got to swing on the bars, walk the balance beam, perform floor routines and my favorite, jump in the foam pit.

“The athletes were so great with the children and everyone had smiles the whole time. They are a class act!” Said Katy Gilliam, co-founder of The Pink Pacers.

Carla Burkhard’s two children had a blast during the event.  But for some Jr. Pink Pacers gymnastics did not come naturally. Her 8-year-old son had a little difficulty balancing on the beam.

“Instead of rolling their eyes about why this kid couldn’t even do a simple skill, the girls were very patient with him, explained techniques to him, and really coached him through it,” said Burkhard.  “I really felt welcomed at the facility. The coaches and the athletes seemed really happy to share their time with us.”

Both organizations will continue to join forces with the UNC Gymnastics team. On February 20 the team will host the UNC Blue & Pink Gymnastics Meet and Breast Cancer Awareness Fair. The Health Fair event will begin at 12:30 p.m. and will be sponsored by Get REAL & HEEL, The Pink Pacers, Fleet Feet Sports and other local businesses. The event will include UNC Cheerleaders, Ramses and baked goods. To get the kids excited about the event, there will be pink tar heel tattoos, glitter ribbons to put in your hair and face paint. After the meet, the UNC gymnastics team will also be available to sign autographs for the kids.

“It means so much to be apart of events like these. All of us girls on the team love helping the kids try gymnastics! They are always so adorable and teach us something new every time we get a chance to play with them. It is such a great opportunity to recognize, support and care for those fighting cancer,” said freshman Emily Cornwell.

The Pink Pacers motto is “We walk on because we can not walk away. Walk on…”

Whether they walk, flip or cart-wheel, the UNC gymnastics team will continue to support The Pink Pacers mission into raising awareness for breast cancer.

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