Small notes of encouragement are sprinkled throughout Nazareth Academy teacher Sister Mary Jean Bludau’s classroom.
“It lets me know I can keep going,” she said.
Bludau was one of 11 Crossroads women honored during Nazareth Academy’s Tickled Pink Cancer Rally hosted by Nazareth Academy and Guardians of the Ribbon on Friday afternoon. Each honoree was a breast cancer survivor or currently undergoing treatment.
Nazareth last hosted the event six years ago, and school principal Sister Evelyn Korenek was honored at that event.
“It was just amazing,” Korenek said. “I didn’t question that at all. I was honored.”
The Guardians of the Ribbon raises money for cancer treatment in women. It is known for pink trucks that community members sign for themselves or someone they know diagnosed with cancer.
One of these pink trucks sat outside Nazareth Academy for students and parents to sign.
The event happened in the middle of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which runs through October.
During Thursday’s rally, two men attended from Guardians of the Ribbon dressed in pink firefighter gear. Partnered with students, they presented each honoree with a pink tote bag filled with goodies and a pink rose.
Nazareth Academy honors women battling breast cancer pic.twitter.com/PbOcJApQAg— Samantha Douty (@SamanthaDouty) October 18, 2019
Gary Moses was the master of ceremonies and called each woman by name to be recognized.
“This is called Project Tickled Pink, and we’re tickled to have you,” he said.
The women sat with black shirts with pink ribbons in the center of the gym facing the crowd. Pink balloons were tied to their chairs.
As their names were called, they stood. Several of the honorees wiped tears from their eyes as they hugged the student and Guardian of the Ribbon member who gave them pink roses.
“Things like this, there’s nothing better,” Moses said. “We love you, and our prayers are with you.”
The gym filled with screams when Bludau was recognized. Everyone in attendance stood and applauded Bludau.
Nazareth Academy honors women battling breast cancer. Among those recognized was teacher Sister Mary Jean Bludau pic.twitter.com/SOQOgQK8Af— Samantha Douty (@SamanthaDouty) October 18, 2019
Bludau was diagnosed with cancer at the end of May. The moment she stepped into the school for the 2019-20 school year, she felt love and support.
“They’ve been so sweet with the outpouring of love and prayers,” she said.
Many in the crowd wore pink shirts. The design featured a pink ribbon with Bludau’s initials.
Bludau teaches sixth- through eighth-grade religion at the private school, and since the school members found out about her diagnosis, she finds notes in her classroom.
Thursday’s rally showed her the scope of support, and it opened her eyes to how many women share her diagnosis.
“They fight a tough battle,” she said. “I never dreamed I’d have cancer.”
After the honorees were recognized, the crowd lifted their hands toward them and said a prayer.
Nazareth Academy honors women battling breast cancer with a prayer. pic.twitter.com/hGWwJq4o0w— Samantha Douty (@SamanthaDouty) October 18, 2019
“God, our heavenly Father, we lift up these women to you this afternoon,” the crowd said in unison. Every hand lifted to the women.
The choir sang “You Raise Me Up” after the prayer. Audience members and some of the women being honored wiped their eyes and mouthed along with the junior high choir.
Korenek said it was a great rally, and it was wonderful to see the love.
“It was a beautiful feeling,” she said.