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Fremd football goes pink for charity
By Sara Faiwell | Daily Herald Staff

Fremd's Viking football players -- as well as the visiting Schaumburg Saxons -- wore pink socks in honor of football mom Susan Mertes, who died Sept. 23 of breast cancer.

 

Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Fremd senior Matt Mertes is honored at Friday's game with his father, Jim, and aunt Jean Johnson. Jim's late wife, Susan, the mother of four boys, inspired a school-wide breast cancer fundraising effort.

 

Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Nearly everyone in the stands wore pink in honor of Susan Mertes.

 

Daniel White | Staff Photographer

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Published: 10/10/2007 12:01 AM

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All last week at Fremd High School, everyone was thinking pink.

Pink posters, pink ribbons, pink T-shirts and pink scarves could be found throughout the school.

But when it all culminated at Friday's football game against Schaumburg High School, the sea of pink turned into so much more.

Supporters helped raise almost $15,000 for breast cancer research while also honoring a local mom who'd just died of the disease.

Susan Mertes of Hoffman Estates, the 46-year-old mother of four Fremd football players, died Sept. 23 after a three-year battle with breast cancer.

Her sons are Matt, a senior; Drew, a sophomore; Adam, a freshman; and Nick, a 2007 graduate who attends Harper College. The three youngest boys all play football for Fremd and Nick also did before graduating.

In what was dubbed a "Pink Out," fans on both sides wore pink T-shirts and other items in the stands. Football players on the Fremd and Schaumburg team wore pink socks, and there were pink ribbons spray-painted on the field.

"All of us just thought it was great how everyone was supporting us," said Adam Mertes, 14.

He was kind of surprised at how many people actually showed up in pink.

"Our family just really likes the fact that everyone cares about everything and just wants to help support us," he said.

Susan Mertes' sister-in-law, Jean Johnson, said it was really moving when all the students filed into the stands wearing pink.

"All of a sudden, this whole stream of pink came walking in," she said. "I got kind of choked up and a little goose-bumpy."

When the announcer called Matt Mertes' name on the roster, everyone stood up, cheering and clapping.

"The support was just unbelievably good. It was just so positive," Johnson said. "Schaumburg was so classy since they stepped on board, too."

At halftime, an announcement was made for all cancer survivors to stand up and be honored.

The entire event was spearheaded by United Clubs of Fremd.

Besides being a big Fremd fan, Susan Mertes also coached football and baseball for the Hoffman Estates Park District.

Money raised came from selling T-shirts, raffle tickets and other donations. Students in Fremd fashion classes also made pink hats, scarves and armbands to sell as a fundraiser.

All proceeds are going to the American Cancer Society in honor of breast cancer. To contribute, donations can be sent to Johnson's home at 5135 Castaway Lane, Barrington, IL 60010.