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OVC officials using pink whistles Saturday for Breast Cancer Awareness

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. -- The official's whistle will be even more important than usual during football games in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) this Saturday, including Tennessee Tech's game in Tucker Stadium against Eastern Illinois.

It could even mean the difference between life or death for someone.

This weekend, and for the entire month of October, the whistles OVC officials will be blowing will be pink instead of the usual black ones.

"October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and we wanted to help call everyone's attention to it," said Todd Dunaway, who has been a football referee for 12 years.

Tech fans will also be seeing pink Saturday as the game program inserts at all home events for the balance of October will be printed on pink pages.

Dunaway, who lives in Memphis and is Director of Retirement Plan Consulting at Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance, LLC, came up with the suggestion to use the pink whistles.

"I can't take credit for the idea - I believe it's been done in several places before," he said. "But we wanted to make this conference-wide and perhaps motivate the member schools to create additional things."

Dunaway says no one in his family has been touched by cancer, but he knows how important awareness and early detection are.

"I think we all know someone who has a person close to them that has been affected by the disease," he said. "When the idea was mentioned to the other officials, they all jumped on board. We know this is an important cause."

Obviously, Dunaway's company felt the same way. Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance and the Lipscomb & Pitts Breakfast Club paid for the 50 pink whistles.

"If what we're doing motives just one person to get a checkup, it will be worth the effort," said Dunaway.

Officials also are wearing pink ribbons on the bills of their caps.

"Over the last three years, a couple of our crews have asked permission to use pink whistles during October to bring heightened awareness to the fight against breast cancer," said Jim Jackson, OVC Coordinator of Football Officiating. "Virtually every member of our staff has been affected by this disease, and we are pleased to participate in this campaign.  We appreciate Lipscomb & Pitts for helping us make it happen. We urge all OVC football fans to donate money for research to find a cure."

The Ohio Valley Conference, which is the nation's eighth oldest Division I athletic conference, is in its 63rd year of competition in 2010-11. The OVC is comprised of 11 schools that represent five states. Member institutions include Austin Peay State University, Eastern Illinois University, Eastern Kentucky University, Jacksonville State University, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Southeast Missouri State University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University and the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Kickoff Saturday at Tech is a 7 p.m., while the Magic 98.5 Tailgate Park opens at 4 p.m. Tickets for the game are on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940. Tickets may also be pruchased online at TTUsports.com or by clicking here.