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Football teams make a difference, tackle cancer

East Ridge head coach Mike Pendino sports a Tackle Cancer T-Shirt in the Raptors' recent game against Woodbury.

Though their fans often sit on opposite sides of the field, area football programs and their followers are teaming up to try and take down cancer.

This season, East Ridge, Park and New Life Academy are each trying to make a difference. In a partnership with the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund, the three area schools have chosen to sponsor one "Tackle Cancer" night this season, where fans attending the game can make donations toward funding additional cancer research.

In the big rivalry game between East Ridge and Woodbury two weeks ago, East Ridge collected $1,035.85 for the effort.

This week, Park football fans can donate money at the Wolfpack's home game against Hastings on Friday, Oct. 5, at Park High School. New Life Academy hosted its Tackle Cancer game earlier this season against Providence Academy.

For the past 29 years, Shaver has covered Minnesota high school football for KARE 11 TV. He and his wife Roseann Giovanatto-Shaver are both cancer survivors. The Shavers' foundation has raised more than $4 million in the battle against cancer to date.

Giovanatto-Shaver said the idea of the Tackle Cancer initiative came to fruition after Minnetonka High School football coach Dave Nelson was diagnosed with cancer. Shortly thereafter, Nelson and the Shavers brainstormed and the Tackle Cancer campaign was borne.

With assistance from the Minnesota Football Coaches Association (MFCA), over 130 Minnesota High School football teams have chosen to take part in the inaugural fundraiser. Giovanatto-Shaver said the initial goal was to raise roughly $20,000 for the fight against cancer, but she said the grand total will likely far exceed that this year.

For more information on the Tackle Cancer campaign visit