TOWNSEND -- When the North Middlesex Regional boys basketball team hosts Algonquin Friday night, there will be something bigger than the game going on behind the scenes.
The two squads have teamed up to support the fight against pancreatic cancer, which claimed Robert Larsen, the father of senior guard Bobby Larsen, earlier this year.
"The guys from the team asked me if it would be cool to wear purple to honor my dad," Larsen said." I thought that was awesome of them to come and ask me if they could do that. It was great that everybody was behind me.
"We found out on Jan. 15 that my dad had cancer, and he passed away on April 4. Pancreatic cancer is pretty much impossible to beat." Robert Larsen of Pepperell was 52.
One day near the start of the season, North Middlesex Athletic Director James Bunnell walked into the gym during practice and noticed that the Patriots were all wearing purple basketball shoes.
"When I walked into the gym I was talking to coach Dellasanta and asked, 'Why are the kids wearing purple shoes? What's that for?'" Bunnell said. "He said, 'Bobby's father passed away from pancreatic cancer, and he was at all the games. The kids really liked him.' It was the kids; idea to do it and show support for Bobby and his family. Everyone on the team purchased these shoes to show their support."
Purple is the "official" color for pancreatic cancer awareness.
Among those who purchased the purple shoes was coach Dellasanta.
"The shoes are nice. I wear them around and people say, 'Boy, those are pretty fancy shoes.' They really don't know why I am wearing them, but when I tell them, it's nice. It brings awareness. It's great to see the team support Bobby through this tough time.
"One of the parents, who wanted to remain anonymous, purchased nicely done purple shirts with 'North Middlesex Basketball' on the front, and a Jimmy Valvano quote on the back."
After learning about the loss of Larsen's father, Bunnell approached the senior and asked if he would be comfortable with the school hosting a game to honor his dad.
"He said absolutely, and that his mother and sister were OK with it," Bunnell said. "The mother of one of my wife's good friends is actually the director for pancreatic cancer in Massachusetts, so I got in contact with her." A portion of the gate and all moneys from the concessions will go to the cause.
Ironically, Bunnell's godfather is one of the rare cases of someone beating pancreatic cancer.
The Patriots' opponent Friday, Algonquin Regional, recently donated money to pancreatic cancer research in the name of Bobby Larsen's dad. Fans are encouraged to wear purple to Friday's game to show their support and Algonquin will wear purple warmup shirts.