‘Strike Out Cancer’ benefit raises money for Relay for Life

With a non-district game at stake, the Portales and Clovis softball teams took the field. Decked out in Clovis red and Portales purple, the weather was … wait, what?

CMI: Tony Bullocks

Clovis sophomore outfielder KyLeigh Guthals said she always plays for herself and her teammates, but the annual "Strike Out Cancer" fundraiser game means more because, "I'm playing for someone I'mreally close to and love a lot." Her grandmother, Juanita Spinks, is a cancer survivor and threw out the first pitch Saturday.

The sister cities flipped their colors, and battled each other on the field and cancer off of it in their annual "Strike Out Cancer" benefit game at the Wildcat Softball Complex.

The game, now in its fifth season and third involving Portales and Clovis, is the main fundraising avenue for both teams in preparation for Relay for Life events.

Though the overall mission of raising money for cancer research is the same, the focuses are somewhat different.

Clovis coach Brandi Thomas said she started the benefit in memory of former Eastern New Mexico University basketball coach Dan Buzard, who died of brain cancer in 2007.

The first two seasons, Clovis played against Roswell High. Later on, Thomas and Portales High coach Robbie Crowley discussed having the game as a combined effort.

"We just figured that we could get a better crowd," Crowley said.

The game is held every year at Clovis, Crowley said, because Portales' softball complex isn't set up as an enclosed area with a ticket window. The Clovis complex is, with a sign out front Saturday that read, "$5 Admission: No passes accepted."

That money goes into the CHS softball team's Relay for Life squad, which does other fundraisers throughout the year. Sophomore rightfielder KyLeigh Guthals took part in a carhop fundraiser at Twin Cronnies, and was one of many team members who carried around a cup to collect pocket change from fellow students and CHS staff.

The carhop effort raised $430, and Guthals said the pocket change topped the $400 mark as well.

The first pitch was thrown out by Guthals' grandmother, Juanita Spinks, a cancer survivor.

"It kind of brought us together, because we were all afraid," Guthals said. "When the doctor told us everything would be all right, it was a big relief."

Clovis tries to focus the money on a different type of cancer awareness each year, as signified in the color of the cancer ribbons painted in the outfield. Portales went with purple — Clovis' color — for general cancer awareness and Clovis went with red.

"We should confuse everybody," Crowley said. "I might get confused myself."

The total effort normally raises around $1,500 annually for Portales and anywhere from $2,000 to $3,500 for Clovis.

"A lot of it depends on the weather, and how well we promote it," Thomas said. "We did a good job of getting it out this year."

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