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Column: Night special for Dakota Ridge's Nelson

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By Michael Hicks

Solveig Nelson may just be a Dakota Ridge High School senior basketball player, but she knows all too well the affects breast cancer has taken on her family.
Three generations of the Nelson clan have endured this battle — her great grandmother and grandmother  both passed away from breast cancer and an aunt just finished chemotherapy in December. So Nelson has seen all too much what breast cancer can do.
So it seems somewhat fitting that Nelson, Dakota Ridge’s senior class vice president, is in charge of the school’s fourth-annual Think Pink night, which is Feb. 8. Dakota Ridge will host a basketball doubleheader with rival Columbine. The girls game is scheduled for 6 p.m., with the boys game to follow.
Funds will go toward breast cancer awareness and research. There will be a celebration at halftime of the boys game to honor family members and friends who have battled or are currently battling breast cancer.
“I’ve been involved a lot. It’s emotional. I’m really honored to be able to do this with relatives who’ve passed away and survived from it,” Nelson said.
Survivors may attend the game for free. They will be presented with flowers and a gift certificate.
“I’m really looking forward to it coming together,” said Nelson, who said she has received tremendous feedback from the community. She said the names of survivors and those who’ve passed away from the disease have been placed on hearts decorating the school’s gymnasium. “I’m really excited to play and compete against one of our rivals. I’m honored to be talking during halftime and honor everyone that is there. I’m ready for this thing to get here.”
The players will be wearing pink uniforms and will use a pink warmup ball prior to the game, Dakota Ridge athletic director Matt Heckel said.
One person in particular who the night will pay tribute to is Jefferson County Sheriff Deputy and Dakota Ridge school resource officer Michelle Lucero. She herself is a breast cancer survivor. This night will surely be an emotional one for her.
“It is,” Lucero said. “The seniors and juniors have been through this with me since the beginning. They’ve seen me bald. They’re good kids who’ve helped me roll through the punches. The school has been great about it.”
Lucero was initially diagnosed on April 26, 2010 as she was undergoing a mammogram. She was 45 at the time. It was pretty overwhelming. It was surreal, she said. She missed days at school as she underwent chemotherapy, but she never lost the support of the Dakota Ridge community.
“She has a great relationship with the kids. The kids trust her personal message,” Heckel said. “She went through it, and she’s still going through the aftereffects of it right now.”
Lucero’s cancer is in remission. She finished chemo in October 2011.
A large crowd is expected to be in attendance, Nelson said. A Facebook page was made to promote this week’s game. One person who you can bet will be there is Lucero, and the Dakota Ridge community wouldn’t have it any other way.

Contact Michael Hicks at sports@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.