Pink Night 2022

Pink Night 2022

I am thrilled and honored to write about the 4th annual Thunder Ridge Pink Night that was held on Wednesday night. Before I proceed, I feel obligated to explain how this event started, and how the Foundation became involved.

Thunder Ridge head basketball coach Lee Toldson was instrumental in starting the event in 2018. It was similar to an event at the school he worked at in Douglas Wyoming. With the help of Michele Kennedy and the booster club, they put together the event which included providing free pink t-shirts for everyone to wear. I remember hearing about the event and thinking it was such a great event for the high school and the community. The day after, Michele Kennedy contacted me and explained the event. Then she said they had a check for the Foundation. She wanted to know if I would be able to meet her at the school the next day to pick up the check. I was excited to hear that, but also a little confused. I had no idea she knew about the Foundation. I thanked her and told her I would be there the next day.

When I met Michele at the school the next day, she explained how they had reached out to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center to sponsor the free t-shirts. One of the directors at the hospital they spoke with said they would happily donate the t-shirts but asked if they would donate a small portion of the funds they received to the Shannon Wilker Foundation. She then handed me a check for $500. I was speechless for a few minutes, (which is quite rare.) Then I asked her the same thing I always ask anyone who donates money to the Foundation. “Is there a family you know that we can use these funds to help?” Michele then explained the fundraiser was to help two families with students at Thunder Ridge that were dealing with cancer. I asked for their names and told her I would write two checks for $250 each to give to the two families. The next year, they started donating all the funds through the Foundation. It has been a great honor and I enjoy being able to play a small part in getting the donations from this event to families in our community that need it.

It was a great turn-out Wednesday night, and it was inspiring to see so many people attending the event. As we walked into the building, there was a sea of pink t-shirts in the hallway. The crew from D93 news was there and did a small interview with me. We walked into the gym and the stands was full of so much pink! I went over to the cheerleaders from Thunder Ridge and gave them some t-shirts to throw out to the crowd. The atmosphere in the building was electric!

The recipients for the funds this year were a three-year-old boy who had just been diagnosed with Leukemia, and a 15-year-old young man diagnosed in July with Osteosarcoma. Sadly the 15-year-old young man passed away a few days before the event. I had put together a card with a check, gas cards, and gift cards for both families. At half-time, I was introduced and was able to say a few words to the crowd. Then I asked the cheerleaders from Thunder Ridge to come up and had them present one of cards to the family of the three-year-old boy. It was so heart-warming to see them hug members of the family and the look of love on everyone’s face. I then ask if the brother of the fifteen-year-old young man to come up so I could present his family the other card. As the young man walked toward me, I could see the tears in his eyes, and I had tears welling up in mine as well. I said that I had the privilege of meeting his brother earlier when we presented him and his family a check at a football game at Thunder stadium. “He was an amazing young man and is an inspiration of strength to all of us,” I said. We gave each other a big hug as we were both overcome with tears of love and warmth.

One of the greatest part of this event is to witness the compassion, kindness, and generosity of all the students. For anyone who says this generation is lazy and selfish, I would strongly disagree. That might apply to a small number of them, like it has for every generation. It is my experience that there are so many great young men and women in our community like the students at Thunder Ridge and Bonneville that have done so much to help their schools and community. They will definitely be great leaders for the future of our society and country. I love this event so much, and I am looking forward to next year! Thanks for reading.

Next week: World Ag Expo

P.S. I was given a microphone and a captive audience and kept my speech under three minutes. I know, it shocked me as well.