FLOWERY BRANCH -- Think pink.
That was the message Friday at C.W. Davis Middle School, where many of the students replaced their everyday uniforms with pink clothing in various hues and styles.
It wasn't a fashion statement. The kids were showing their support for two Davis teachers who are battling breast cancer.
Davis principal Eddie Millwood said the idea for a "pink-out" day arose spontaneously earlier this week. "It's come together very quickly and it just snowballed," he said.
Instead of their mandatory black, white, red or gray shirts, Davis' approximately 1,300 students were encouraged to wear pink and to also make a donation of at least $1, if they could afford it. Faculty and staff did the same. Those who didn't have any pink clothing were offered pink ribbons to wear.
"The kids are so supportive of their teachers and really want to do something for them," said Jody Osler, who teaches eighth-grade history.
Over the summer, another eighth-grade teacher was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is undergoing chemotherapy and will probably miss the rest of the school year, Osler said.
Then just last week, a seventh-grade teacher was diagnosed with the same disease and will likely undergo surgery next month. What makes the coincidence even more unusual is that both teachers are in their 30s. Breast cancer is rare in women younger than 50.
"Both our staff and students have realized how pervasive this disease is," Millwood said. "The kids see those ads on TV, the products with the pink ribbons, and now they understand what that's really all about. (Breast cancer) hits close to home when (the people affected) are two of our own."
For the employees, seeing two women struck with the disease at such an early age has been a shock.
"I think a lot of our staff are realizing how precious life is, and they're looking at their own situations," Millwood said.
If there's a silver lining to the teachers' plight, it's that the effort to help them has brought Davis' employees closer together.
"We have a large staff and not everyone knew each other," Millwood said. "It took something like this to give us a common rallying point."
Osler said whatever money is collected will be divided into three portions. One-third will be put into the school's Relay for Life fund to benefit the annual event for cancer research. Davis was the top fundraising school in Hall County during last year's Relay.
The rest will go toward the families of the teachers, both of whom have young children.
"We plan to buy Christmas presents for the kids and Publix gift cards so they'll have some nice meals for the holidays," Osler said. "This is such a tough time of the year to be going through something like cancer."