August 01, 2012 - When the Wright family became involved with Clarkston's Football for a Cure in 2009, they never thought one day a football player would be wearing a jersey for one of them.
Griffin Barta, right, will play for close family friend, Renee Weaver-Wright, left, in the Fourth Annual Football for a Cure, Aug. 11. Photo by Larry Wright (click for larger version)
"I was diagnosed last October," said Renee Weaver-Wright, who is a member of the chain-gang during the Wolves' home games. "Unfortunately I was not having my annual mammograms the way I should have."
A friend mentioned to her someone he loved was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. When she realized it had been two years since her last mammogram he urged her to get one.
"I was thinking it was just another mammogram," she said. "It wasn't just another mammogram."
She was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer and began her chemotherapy on Halloween.
"The first thing I thought of was I had this weird feeling I wasn't going to have hair for my son's graduation, which is a really stupid thing," she laughed. "But I did have hair for Matt's graduation because it started to grow back. It said to me - your first reaction when something bad happens to you is not the way the story is going to end up."
News spread to family and close friends.
"It was shocking and overwhelming," admitted Griffin Barta, a family friend and junior at Clarkston High School. "She is such a good person. I didn't think it could happen to her because she is so nice and has done so much for the community. She means so much to me."
Renee had her last bout with chemotherapy on Valentine's Day. She had her surgery and began radiation on Memorial Day.
She has five more treatments, which she receives every three weeks, and will be done around Halloween.
During the entire time she had people reaching out to her and her family. She received cards in the mail or someone would say they were bringing over something.
She had people in the community and across the world praying for her. She remembered meeting someone and saying her name.
The person responded, "I don't know you but I have been praying for you."
"Larry and I look at each other and wonder how are we going to repay all these people for what they have done for us," she said. "We are just so grateful to them and for them reaching out to the kids and the rest of our family."
After her surgery in May, they received good news everything came back clear and she is currently cancer-free. She will have another mammogram in October and doctors will keep a close watch on her for the next five years.
"I knew she would give it a fight," said Barta. "She is such a strong person. I knew she would keep overcoming it."
When it was time to start getting ready for his first Football for a Cure, Barta knew who he wanted to play for during the game - Renee.
"She was the first who came to mind," he said. "She is the most important person in my life who has been affected be cancer. I think it makes it more special because I know the person I am playing for."
Renee felt honored.
"I am so tickled he wanted to do it," she added. "Our families have been friends since Alex, his older brother, and Matt were in first grade or so. Griffin is such a delightful young man."
Barta explained Football for a Cure means helping out the community for him.
"Showing our appreciation for people who have fought against cancer and those still fighting cancer," he added. "This is my first Football for a Cure. It does make it more special because I am playing for Mrs. Wright. She is someone who means a lot to me. We have known her and her family for awhile and they do so much for us and so much for the community."
Renee views it as a great extension of the support for others as she has received from not only her family, church family, and work family
The fourth annual Football for a Cure begins at 7 p.m., August 11 at Clarkston High School stadium.
"It is a great way for the community to come together to support a cause that touches everyone at some point in time in one way or another," Renee said. "It is a great opportunity to support the football team as well as they think bigger than the picture of football and the world around them."
T-shirts are available for $10 and bracelets are available for $1 each during the event or online at www.customthreadsandsports.com/clarkston.
All proceeds from the event benefit McLaren Breast Cancer and McLaren Cancer Institute - Clarkston.
For more information or to volunteer for the event, please email ClarkstonFootballforaCure@gmail.com.
"I am looking at it as a chapter in the story of my life, not my life story," Renee said. "It hasn't been the most pleasant thing to go through but I have had so many blessings attached to it to make it wonderfully life changing."
She added when you get a diagnosis which could be scary or a bad thing to look at the positive.
"For me, I have been surrounded by so many positive people who have done so many positive thing for me," Renee said. "I just don't dare feel bad or sorry for myself. I have too many people around me who won't let me - which is a nice problem to have."
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.