Painting The Town Pink: Gymnastics advocates for breast cancer awareness


CW / Hannah Saad

Katie Windham | @ktwindham5, Staff Reporter

Even though October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, several Tuscaloosa landmarks will be lit up in pink for the next few weeks to honor a special cause.

On Friday night, No. 7 Alabama gymnastics is scheduled to host No. 21 Missouri in its 16th annual Power of Pink meet to raise awareness for breast cancer.

The Bama Theatre, Woods Quad, River Market, Chuck’s Fish, FIVE Tuscaloosa and, of course, Coleman Coliseum are among the places that will be lit up in pink this week. 

Everything is pink at the gymnastics practice facility: pink leotards, pink ribbons and pink t-shirts.

“This is my favorite meet,” junior Lexi Graber said. “It just reminds us on Friday night there is a woman standing next to us that has been through so much and has fought through so much more than we could ever imagine.”

For the 11th straight year, instead of the traditional introductions used for the Alabama gymnasts, the time will be used to honor a breast cancer survivor.

Each gymnast will walk out arm-in-arm with a survivor, allowing them a moment in the spotlight in front of thousands in Coleman Coliseum.

Freshman Makarri Doggette has not competed in a Power of Pink meet yet, but she said that it was always her favorite meet to watch while a recruit.

“There’s so much more going on than just yourself, and seeing that and knowing that I could be a part of something so much bigger was just something that really drew me in,” Doggette said. 

Coach Dana Duckworth said she once watched a Will Smith video where he said, “If you’re not giving back, you’re not growing.” That’s a mindset she tries to instill in her team, especially during Power of Pink week.

The Power of Pink initiative was started by legendary former Alabama gymnastics coach Sarah Patterson in 2005 but has now spread across several UA sports and other programs around the country. The women’s basketball team is participating in this week’s festivities and hosting a Power of Pink game Sunday afternoon against Auburn. 

Duckworth also wants her gymnasts to understand that the Power of Pink meet represents so many things to so many people, even those who did not win their battle.

“I think it’s huge for our ladies to realize when you put [on] the Power of Pink leotard, you are representing those that have not won their fight,” Duckworth said. “You’re representing those that have won their fight, and you represent those that are fighting right now.”

This Friday is only the second home meet of the season and the first since Jan. 24. In the previous home meet, Alabama scored a season-high 197.400.

The Crimson Tide is coming off its first head-to-win win of the season against LSU – though it did for second in a four-team meet two weeks ago and hopes to continue that momentum against Missouri.

“I think we’re just kind of focused on the momentum that it gave us and the confidence,” Graber said. “The excitement we had coming off of that is just going to build in practice and carry on to next week.”