How Shooting for a Cure Became Pembroke High School’s Identity

The Pink Game

It all began in 2011, when Ron Funke’s wife was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, Ron was the head coach of the Pembroke (NY) girls summer league softball team. When the team heard the news, the girls approached head basketball coach Mike Wilson. They were eager to dedicate a “pink game” to raising money for breast cancer research in Mrs. Funke’s honor.

“We walked around with a couple of empty coffee cans and a pink basketball, asking for donations,” says Mike. “We went out into the community, and next thing we knew, it lit up like wildfire.”

Mike’s father-in-law connected him with Roswell Park to help get things rolling, and with the very first game, the girls became part of Team Roswell (then called Team Cure), a community-driven fundraising program that benefits cancer research and patient care at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

That first year, the team raised $4,000 for Roswell Park.

Shooting for a Cure Success

Since then, Shooting for a Cure has grown into an annual event — and a wild success for Pembroke High School and its community. The girls varsity basketball team has collectively raised more than $85,000 for Roswell Park, bringing in a record $26,000 in 2018 alone.

Today Ron is head coach of the girls varsity basketball team. He says everyone wants to help make Shooting for a Cure a success. Local businesses are eager to get involved and donate to the cause, and so are local teams across Western New York. This year the Lady Dragons faced off against the Oakfield-Alabama Hornets, who also contributed to the effort.

“Each year, teams across the area want to be part of this game,” explains Ron. “Everyone does. Everyone wants to play Pembroke for the pink game! It has become our identity, and I think that is really cool!”

Tips for Future Fundraisers

Mike advises others who are interested in fundraising that creating an event like Shooting for a Cure is hard and takes a lot of work. But he adds that with passion, dedication and inspiration, anything is possible. He suggests starting small. Shooting for a Cure did not grow overnight; it took years to fully develop. If you’re interested, he encourages you to give it a try, because it will benefit both your school and your community — and with their help, your event will grow!

“You’ll truly be amazed at how the people around you want to help,” he says.

Turn your interests, athletic events and special moments into funding for lifesaving treatments with Team Roswell. Get started or learn more at, or call 716-845-8788.

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