GARDINER — After four decades of teaching, Faith Madore was ready for her golden years.

Then came the words no woman wants to hear: You have breast cancer.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer the minute I retired,” said Madore, who taught in the Hall-Dale and Mt. Ararat school systems. “It was, like, ‘Oh, I guess I know how I’m spending my first year of retirement.”

Madore’s diagnosis came around the same time the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care opened in Augusta. She was one of the first people to be treated there.

Seven years later, Madore is cancer free. Tuesday night, she was able to serve as honorary captain and watch her grandaughter, Maddy Noyes play soccer for Gardiner in the Drive Out Cancer Challenge at Hoch Field.

The event, held annually since 2009, uses preseason scrimmages between rivals Gardiner and Cony to raise money for the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care. The rivals meet on the volleyball court Wednesday afternoon in another fundraiser. Friday night’s football game with Lawrence at Hoch Field and Gardiner’s field hockey opener on Saturday will also raise money.

Tuesday night it was the soccer teams’ turn. The girls battled to a scoreless tie. The boys squared off in a see-saw battle which Gardiner won, 5-4.

Noyes, a junior stopper for the Tigers, escorted her grandmother to the center of the field in pregame ceremonies, then enjoyed a not-so-typical preseason game.

“It was really cool my grandmother was named honorary captain,” Noyes said. “These games are always special. It’s a good cause that we’re doing if for and I just think everyone always gets pumped up for these games.”

Gardiner girls’ coach Jeff Hersey’s own mother, Nancy, a two-time cancer survivor, served as honorary captain two years ago.

“To me, this is one of the biggest games of the year,” he said. “The fact that we don’t play Gardiner in the regular season and so many people have beeen affected by cancer in one way, shape or form, it’s really an honor to be the team that Gardiner chooses to be out here with.”

Among the players touched by cancer is Gardiner senior forward Kaleb Marston, who dontaed $500 to the drive in honor of his grandmother and great-grandfather, who both passed away due to cancer.

“It’s a real good cause and obviously a lot of families around here are affected by it, especially my family,” he said. “So I just wanted to donate some money and make a difference.”

Getting to make that difference and square off with a rival made the night extra special for Marston.

“We sure get ready for this game,” he said. “It’s a really big game for us. We all get into it.”

The Cony girls showed how happy they were to be part of the cause by staying toe-to-toe with the Tigers, thanks in large part to junior goalkeeper Autumn Sudsbury, who dueled with Gardiner keeper Lauren Boyington save-for-save all night.

“We’re all great rivals and we’re doing it all for charity, so it’s good,” Sudsbury said.

In the nightcapt, the boys wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, as Gardiner’s Josh Caldwell made it 1-0 just 1:55 into the game. Cony rallied from a 2-0 halftime deficit to take a 3-2 lead before Gardiner scored twice in the final 16 minutes to win.

“This rivalry was instilled to these kids at a young age,” Gardiner boys’ coach Nick Wallace said. “Cony-Gardiner has always been the rivalry and always will be regardless of what class they play.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

Email:[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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