“I think it’s always a positive sign when you can go out there and try to support a cause, and especially a cause that’s so close to my heart and my family’s heart. I’m glad the league took the initiative to do something like this.” Anthony Calvillo
“Remission is a very sensitive word…the cancer’s not gone…” Alexia Calvillo
Wearing their hearts on their sleeves, or more accurately their gloves, wristbands and even shoe-laces will have special significance for the Alouettes family this weekend.
“We were able to persevere as a family,” says Montreal’s First Lady of Pro Football Alexia Calvillo.
“Even tough guys where pink and the girls dress him up in pink all the time,” the wife of pro football’s all-time leading passer says of the CFL dressing for success in the fight against cancer this weekend.
“I guarantee you every one of those guys out there has been touched in one way or another by this disease. To do this on such a big stage is wonderful.”
Both Anthony and Alexia have total strangers approach them all the time to share battle scars and war stories.
“We’ve created this bond with people that have gone through the disease and they’re able to share that with us and we’re able to share back with them.”
“It will be emotional for our family,” admits the Montreal-native who’ll sit with their 2 daughters to watch Pink Daddy on the field against the Blue Bombers Saturday. “Olivia (their youngest) was born October 15th so we have our reminder of my yearly cancer date (Oct. 22nd---the day after AC and the Als wear pink.)
Jim Popp says the Calvillo’s cancer fights have made the team tighter. The Alouettes carried the burden of Anthony Calvillo’s 2010 secret until the thyroid bombshell was revealed on the turf right after the franchise-first back-to-back win.
“We’re family and cancer has touched our family. No one who calls himself an Alouette can say they haven’t been touched by cancer. In my own family, my grandmother on my mother’s side fought breast cancer and passed away when I was little.”
“Kids think pink is cool, kids think cancer awareness is cool…they know.”
“Anthony was scared at first, but he didn’t do it (carry the cancer secret) blindly,” reflects Alexia, who marks 4 years since her own diagnosis the day after the Winnipeg game.
“If he thought it was life-threatening he would have had the surgery right away. He didn’t want to leave his teammates behind. If others can wait 4-5 months (the average waiting period for his surgery)
Jamel Richardson is hard to miss on the football field. Now he’s ready to think pink and he’s thrilled the CFL is teaming up in the fight against womens’ cancers.
“My grandmother passed from it and my mother just beat breast cancer so this is real big for me,” says the bigtime playmaker.
“The league is letting us support this so I’ll have a whole lot of pink on.”
J-Rich laughs out loud at the thought of his mother seeing him in anything pink for the first time.
“She’s gonna know it’s for a great cause. She’s been my biggest supporter and my everything. My grandmother was everything, so I’ll dedicate this season to those two.”
“They were always in the stands screaming their heads off and I always played great when I knew my Mom was in the stands. She gives me that extra boost of energy.”
“All the Eastern Finals and Grey Cups—my mother’s been there. She’s always giving me that extra boost.”
SJ Green echoes J-Rich’s thoughts and actions on and off the field.
“I’ve had friends and family back home who’ve dealt with that so I’m definitely supporting the cause.”
The Als have at least one player with pink experience.
“I participated in college and I’m definitely supportive because in some fashion we’ve all been touched by cancer,” says former Richmond Spider Seth Williams.
“I’ve been blessed not to have anyone in my immediate family touched by it, but I’ve had friends who have lost the battle.”
“In my football family my high school coach’s son passed away due to cancer and the struggle that he had with it. He was a few years younger than me, but being close to my coach he was always there. A few more incidents—people around you---a few scares...I just want to support them.”
“On game-day Anthony’s so focused, his mind is so focused…but before and after it will sink in,” says Alexia of the power of pink.