SHREVEPORT, La (KMSS/KTAL) – On a cold night in January, Hirsch Coliseum is quiet, the ice on George’s pond, empty.
Until one by one, they arrive, carrying only a bucket of paint, a brush, and the memory, of those they’ve lost, and those battling cancer.
They paint, to take away the pain of cancer. It’s part of the Shreveport Mudbugs ‘Stick it to Cancer’ weekend. Mudbugs Director of Social Media and Marketing Teri Johnson says it’s an event that means so much to people, they’ve been anticipating it for weeks before the event.
“This year I’ve seen a lot of people reach out in direct messages or just commenting and saying ‘This is my story or this is someone I know who’s been affected and I can’t wait to come out.”
It’s a tradition that is part of Renee’s Run, a cancer awareness organization formed in 2014 which honors former Shreveport native Renee Rogers who lost her life due to pancreatic cancer. Team President Tommy Scott believes the event is the correct way to help a community that supports the Mudbugs through and through.
“We don’t do this because we’re looking for any notoriety, we do it because it’s the right thing to do. We do it to give people the opportunity to express love toward someone they may have lost, on this ice.”
With every brushstroke, the ice is decorated with names. All tied together by an unfortunate common trait. Greyson Floyd made one of the more creative images on the George’s Pond ice as he honored his mother Leah Floyd and his grandmother Virginia Black.
To the right of the goal crease stood the family of Karen Mitchell who honored her late husband Scott, who passed away from melanoma five years ago. Mitchell also honored a survivor, her mother Jenn Ballinger.
For many, including Greg Sinz, the process of painting the ice is one that welcomes healing.
“My brother Robert just died in December and didn’t get to go to the funeral so there’s no closure but hopefully this helps.”
While the pain of the disease doesn’t go away, for one night in January on George’s Pond, the simple process of making the Mudbug ice a bit more colorful, provides a place to come together and celebrate, inspire, and remember.