A highly anticipated Oct. 18 high school football showdown in New Jersey between Monroe and host Old Bridge promises to be exciting.
Spectators at Lombardi Field, however, may be more interested in the unusual halftime activities, which could set a world record, than in the action on the field.
Old Bridge will attempt to break a Guinness World Record as all in attendance will get an opportunity to “Swish Away Breast Cancer” at the gridiron program’s annual “Pink Out” for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Spectators paying $1 will receive Listerine’s new non-alcoholic mouthwash and a pink cup. Each dollar will be donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, the world’s largest and most progressive grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists.
The Komen’s Central and South Jersey affiliates, who will send 40 volunteers to the event, are committed to increasing screening mammography in order to save lives through early breast cancer detection.
“It’s a great way to bring everybody together and do something a little different to support breast cancer awareness,” Old Bridge Athletics Director Bob Eriksen said. “Our fans, faculty and administration are behind it 100 percent, along with our athletic teams. We look forward to a large crowd coming out to support a great cause.”
Alyssa Monti, a 2008 Old Bridge graduate and brand strategy expert at Growth Management Marketing in Piscataway, initiated the project. Monti has registered the Oct. 18 halftime event with Guinness, making it an officially sanctioned event.
The world record for people swishing mouthwash simultaneously was set earlier this year in Times Square with 1,200 folks each swishing Colgate mouthwash for 15 seconds, according to ebrunews.com. The previous mark of 1,061 simultaneous swishers was set in Costa Rica.
Old Bridge Principal Vinnie Sasso, whose high school, one of the state’s largest, is renowned throughout the Greater Middlesex Conference for having outstanding spirit, said he believes the Knights can set the world record.
“Just based on the amount of students that we get to come out to games, as well as everyone else that would be there, you’d have to think we have as good a shot as anybody,” said Sasso, noting Old Bridge students rally around community events. “I think that speaks to just the general love and respect that these kid have for each other here. We have our moments – believe me – but on paper, a school this big, with so many kids from so many different walks of life, shouldn’t work. But it not only works here, it’s pretty special.”
In lieu of a launch party for her new company, Monti came up with the idea of holding a kickoff fundraiser at her alma mater.
“We wanted to do something fun,” Monti said. “I wanted to incorporate the (Old Bridge) community. I grew up in Old Bridge and was very involved in high school. I knew they would be willing to do something like this. It’s so exciting to get the whole community (involved).”
Wristbands – each bearing a number to help keep track of participants – will be sold at school Oct. 17 and Oct. 18 and at the gate before the game.
During halftime, participants will be called onto the field by number, with 40 volunteers each monitoring a group of participants. Timekeepers will ensure that all participants swish simultaneously for a minimum of 15 seconds before spitting into pink cups.
“We know how important oral hygiene is,” Monti said. “When we came to the realization that dental hygiene is even more important for women going through breast cancer treatment, we knew we wanted to raise awareness about this. That’s how we came up with the idea for “Swish Away Breast Cancer’.”
In addition, Old Bridge students and staff will “Think Pink” during the school day as they participate in activities to raise awareness and funds for local families affected by breast cancer. Pink beads, bracelets, lanyards, T-shirts and shoelaces will be sold on campus. In addition, students can have their faces painted pink, hair sprayed pink and photos taken in a booth, all for a nominal fee.
Central Jersey’s “Rose the Pink Fire Truck,” which tours the state and is run by local firefighters, is expected to make an appearance at the game.
“I think it’s really neat,” Monroe football coach Chris Beagan said of the simultaneous swish and surrounding activities. “It’s for a great cause. What better place to do that than at a high school football game, where many of these great efforts and events take place.”
Representatives from the Pinks Heals Central NJ Chapter will sell T-shirts at the game with proceeds to benefit the Old Bridge High School Scholarship Fund. The money will be awarded to a student who has either experienced cancer or whose immediate family has been affected by the disease.
Cancer survivors, anyone currently fighting cancer or an illness, or anyone whose immediate family member is affected by cancer will be encouraged to sign the pink fire truck.G
Greg Tufaro writes for MyCentralJersey.com, a Gannett property.