As part of Breast Cancer awareness month, Kirby Southard dons pink for mother


Kirby Southard, center for Mercer’s football team, geared up during a team practice.

Caitlyn Patton, Contributing Writer

Millions of people in the United States are affected by cancer, and October has been recognized for years in many ways across the country as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Kirby Southard, the senior center for Mercer’s football team, is no stranger to pink.

Every October he wears pink in his uniform to honor his mother, a survivor of ovarian cancer, as well as other families affected by cancer. Along with his mother, Southard said he himself previously suffered from skin cancer.

“The first time I [wore pink], it caught my mom off guard,” Southard said. “Every year I want to do it in every game for the month of October. It’s really nice for everyone to be able to come together with the same common thing that affects a lot of people. It’s not about whether it matches the orange and black. It’s about what it means to people.”

In the past, Southard has worn pink undershirts with his uniform and more recently tapes his ankles and the club he has to wear on his right hand because of an injury in pink.

Since his family is from Georgia, they never miss a game.

“I really liked Mercer because it was in Georgia and that’s where my family is. They’ve been to San Diego, and they go to every road game and every home game,” Southard said. “It lets you know that they are always there for me. It’s special. Both my parents work, but they still are able to schedule around it for my games every single week.”

In a larger effort to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the football team wore pink ribbon stickers on their helmets for their home game against Western Carolina University on Oct. 15. Several breast cancer survivors carried a large American flag onto the field for the National Anthem as well.

Southard and the football team aren’t the only ones raising awareness. The women’s soccer team also joined in the festivities.

“[The] women’s soccer team had an annual Pink Out match [on Oct. 12] where the team wore pink uniforms, the game balls were pink and t-shirts were sold,” said Patrick Walsh, assistant athletic director for media relations, in an email.

For Southard, this time a year is a reminder of the struggles that his family has faced when dealing with cancer.

“Our family is already close together. That’s not going to bring us any closer than we already are.” Southard said. “It makes you appreciate every day you have. You don’t take a day for granted with your family, no matter what you are going through. Every family fights, argues and bickers, but at the end of the day it’s the big picture in life.”