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Football game celebrates homecoming, raises breast cancer awareness

Fans dress in pink at Mandarin High School

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mandarin High School had a jampacked night for their football game against big-time rival Sandalwood High School Friday night.

The Mandarin Mustangs celebrated their homecoming game, while raising awareness about breast cancer.

The homecoming court sat near the field as the stands were filled with fans decked out in all shades of pink.

“It’s important. It’s an important cause that young people should be aware of, everyone should be aware of," Mandarin student Gabby Cintron said. "So we are doing our part.”

The football players, cheerleaders and fans proudly wore the color to support the fight against breast cancer.

“It is important for us to raise awareness for cancer because in the future it will help us along the way and it will bring our community together," Mandarin student Nadia Fung said.

Breast cancer awareness is a cause that is close to home for the Mandarin Mustangs.

Dr. Donna Richardson, principal of Mandarin High School, said she survived breast cancer.

“I survived it here in 2011. I stayed right here at the school and worked through the whole thing and I had a lot of support from the children,” Dr. Richardson said.

Dr. Richardson said she found out she had breast cancer through a mammogram.

“It was a nightmare and yet it was also a wonderful experience to see the love I felt and that I was shrouded in this wonderful school with these great kids,” Dr. Richardson said.

She said the students look forward to the Pink Out games every year.

Students and staff are encouraged to wear the color at different sporting events and also to raise money for the cause.

Dr. Richardson said her mission now is to tell others to get checked out, no matter what age. She said doing so could save your life.

“Go out there because you can survive this," Dr. Richardson said. “If you are a stage 1 or 2, or even 3 and 4 nowadays, you can survive breast cancer if you get checked early enough."

Due to Hurricane Matthew, the game had been pushed up one week.

Mandarin High School athletic director Brian Rado said the game was a big district rivalry that both teams were excited to play in.

People at the game were selling T-shirts and donating the money they raised to breast cancer research.

"One of the main people we honor, as far as today, is our Principal Donna Richardson, who is an amazing principal and a huge believer of our outstanding academic program and our athletic program," Rado said. "It’s a day to honor her and the many breast cancer survivors."