Casey’s Cup breaks records in support of cancer research
The hockey community of Southern California once again came together to celebrate the life of former youth inline and ice hockey player Casey Strale as part of the second annual Casey’s Cup ironman ice hockey tournament April 9 at The Rinks-Anaheim Ice.
The cross-ice event was sold out for the second consecutive year with 64 teams. Event organizers had two rinks to schedule games on this year, with games starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending by 8 p.m. to create a more fluid tournament experience.
“The weather kept the live bands away, but not the supporters and players,” explained Traci Strale, Casey’s mother, who helped found the event with her husband, Chris.
Dave Filochowski and Julie Ruff served as tournament directors for this year’s event. Ruff is well known for her tireless involvement with the Give Blood Play Hockey (GBPH) inline hockey charity tournament and serves as a board member with the GBPH organization.
The GBPH event continues to celebrate the memory of Casey Strale, an avid youth hockey player and fan, who died from complications of a rare form of cancer at age 16. Both the GBPH and Casey’s Cup tournaments serve as fundraisers for research into adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC), the disease that claimed Casey’s life.
Proceeds collected so far from this year’s Casey’s Cup event include $35,513, which surpasses last year’s amount of $30,813. (Casey’s jersey number was 13, so that number always appears in final check totals.)
Records were set all around. This year’s bake sale raised $1,064, while the raffle and silent auctions surpassed last year’s income by more than $5,000.
“It was a beautiful day full of giving volunteers, love and positive feedback,” Traci Strale explained. “We could all feel Casey’s presence the entire day.”
The event remains popular with players for its three-on-three ironman cross-ice format.
Art Trottier, who serves as vice president of The Rinks program, called this year’s event “another outstanding event for a great cause.”
“The hockey community came out in full support,” he said.
The theme for this year’s event was “I AM RARE.” The definition of rare is something that exists in limited quantities, but is unusually good. Examples include true love, which is hard to find, a print by Picasso, of which there are few, or someone who has unusual skill in sport.
ACC is a rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the outer layer of the adrenal gland with an incidence of one to two per million people annually. The disease has a bimodal distribution by age, with cases clustering in children younger than 5 and in adults 30–40 years old. That Casey was diagnosed at age 12 made his case even more rare.
Symptoms of ACC include having certain genetic conditions that increase the risk of the cancer, pain in the abdomen and aggressive tumors with a very poor prognosis. Unfortunately, many patients have Stage III or IV disease at the time of diagnosis.
The TGen Foundation, based in Phoenix, remains a major beneficiary of the funds raised through the Casey’s Cup tournament.
TGen stands for Translational Genomics Research Institute. Its mission statement is to raise funds that accelerate efforts to make and translate genomic discoveries into advances in human health. TGen’s Troy Richards, member of the board of directors, and Andrea Daly, development director, traveled from Arizona to speak at this year’s event. Retired NFL quarterback Jim Everett also was a featured speaker.
Event organizers are still accepting online donations at www.helptgen.org/caseyscup.
“For us, it’s about better research, treatment and quality of life,” Traci Strale explained. “For me personally, it’s important that families know to never leave any stone unturned. Research every area of your child’s disease and contact every specialty doctor you can get your hands on. There are so many different treatments and clinical trials available, but we have to do our homework and the leg work to make it happen.”
— Phillip Brents