AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Me. (WAGM) - Coaches, referees, and fans all showed their support for people who's lives have been impacted by cancer. This week was cancer awareness week around the County. Referees in the state showed their support in their own unique way, coaches made a fashion statement, and once again, the people of the County showed what a caring and loyal community this place really is.
"Cancer is a terrible disease, I'm sure that everybody has been touched by cancer in the county here, some families," head of officials for IAABO 150 Harry Orser said. "that's what we do we blow the old pink whistle on cancer."
Starting around the same time as the blow the whistle on cancer was Coaches versus Cancer. During this week, coaches around the country are wearing suits and sneakers on the sideline, including both of the Presque Isle coaches, who have fun dressing a little out of the ordinary.
"Normally you know with dress clothes you're not in sneakers, it looks a little bit different out there," Presque Isle boys coach Terry Cummings said. "Again it's not about us coaches it's really about the cause to strive to beat this terrible disease."
Girls coach Jeff Hudson echoes Cummings.
"We've all been affected by cancer in one way or another," Hudson said. "I think that's great that all the coaches wear sneakers, all the referees have pink whistles, it just brings awareness to it and it's a great thing that everybody does."
This year's fight against cancer hits extra close to home for the refereeing community as Dave Demerchant was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer.
"You don't know when it's going to happen to you or somebody else or your friend until it does and then it hits a little bit more," Demerchant said.
Demerchant has been a referee in the County for 40 years, after trying to fight through the pain, he opted step away from reffing for the rest of the season.
Before he was diagnosed with cancer, he was diagnosed with diabetes, but he's been an athlete his entire life and he's bringing a bit of gamesmanship to the fight.
"I kind of look at cancer and diabetes as two more sports I've never played and there's no rules, and we're going to beat it one way or the other," Demerchant said.
And he won't have to do it alone. All week long schools around the County have come together to support Demerchant in his battle to beat cancer. From Washburn to Mars Hill to Houlton, 50/50 raffles were donated to Demerchant. Orser said 100 percent of the proceeds received from the blowing the whistle on cancer will go to Demerchant as well. When the County comes together, it's a powerful thing.
"It's been overwhelming, I've been shocked that the support is there as much as it has been and it keeps coming in all the time," he said.
Demerchant was down at Dana Farber Hospital in Boston this morning, but that's not the top thing on his mind.
"I want to get back into officiating, I hope I can I mean softball is coming up in three or four months that's my next sport," he said. "You know I hope people hear this and think positive things not about just me but about other family members as well so, it's not going to be easy but we'll get through it."