Quinn Walker 16′ – Cancer, unfortunately it is something we are all too familiar with; it is something that affects all of our lives. The community is swept over with an unrelenting hopefulness that leaves Romeo with a sense of purpose and overwhelming love for survivors and victims alike.
The Watchdog Game is so much more than a game, its a cumulation of an entire week focused on hope, unity, awe inspired service. The emotions experienced by those walking on the field after the competition, a surreal feeling, a feeling that is only known to those who have experienced it first hand. It’s indescribable nature is exemplified by the people mingling on the ribbon painted onto the field. The game and the score quickly become a distant memory, as thousands of people gather in unity for a night of contribution and hope.
“I think the first year there wasn’t much awareness compared to now,” Coach Reinas said. “And I think our players were probably more focused on contacting people and raising money than they are now. So I think each year the involvement of the community and the rest of the school have gone up. And this year I feel that people are losing focus of maybe what the game is really about. However, I think that every year it is an emotional game because cancer affects everybody and I don’t think that emotion will change much in the future.”
This year, Watchdog raised more than $30,000. But Watchdog week is more than a fundraiser, it’s an opportunity to honor cancer patients, survivors, and victims.
“I think it’s pretty special for Romeo because we were one of the first in the area to do it and many have followed suit,” Coach Couch said. “Now it seems like it’s commonplace for schools to have a cause they represent. We are into the thousands of people that have been honored that have fought cancer and that is the most significant part to me. The first year it was to raise money but now it’s more than that, it’s to honor people. With that, money will be raised so that hopefully we don’t have to play these games one day.”
Cancer survivors are highly encouraged to take part in the week’s activities and take pride in the fight they have won. Holly Anderson, counselor at RHS and cancer survivor, explains her favorite part of Watchdog week, “As a survivor, my favorite part of watchdog week is to look at the jerseys of all of the football players and think about how they’re fighting the other team, just like the names of people on the jerseys battled their disease,” Anderson said.
When asked about her own personal battle against breast cancer, she said,
“My husband was definitely my biggest supporter. He had to take care of both me and the kids,” Anderson reflected.
This year marks the eighth year since Mrs. Anderson was diagnosed. Her husband explains that this year’s Watchdog week was especially powerful because he attended the football game as the freshman coach. At the game he sported a jersey dedicated to his wife.
Watchdog week is something special for everyone, including freshmen who get to experience the feeling of support and unity for the first time. Maria Vultaggio ‘18, explains her excitement,
“I am looking forward to dancing with the JV and Varsity dance team at the game. I’m even wearing a jersey with the name of a family member on the back,” Vultaggio said.
Watchdog Week removes the barrier between school and the rest of the community and truly brings the Romeo area together. Cancer takes approximately 7.6 million lives worldwide each year. This is our chance to honor victims, and support fighters. Thank you for your cooperation in the Watchdog week in an attempt to stop this disease.