Casey’s Cup returns to the ice to benefit cancer research
The second annual Casey’s Cup Iceman Charity Hockey Tournament is scheduled for April 9 at The Rinks-Anaheim Ice.
The event benefits cancer research and celebrates the life of a truly extraordinary individual for whom the tournament is named: Casey Strale.
Strale was an avid hockey player – both ice and inline – and battled a rare form of cancer known as adrenal cortical carcinoma (ACC) until his death at age 16 in June 2013.
During his three-year battle with cancer, he was well-known as an ambassador for the Give Blood Play Hockey inline charity tournament. His parents — Chris and Traci Strale – also wanted to honor his memory with a charity ice hockey tournament, thus the birth of Casey’s Cup
Last year’s inaugural event was a huge success, with donations totaling $30,813 for research for ACC at the Translational Genomics (TGen) Research Institute in Phoenix, Ariz.
Adrenal cortical carcinoma affects only 1-2 individuals out of 1.7 million. Because of its rarity in the general population, it is often difficult to collect enough ACC tumors to analyze, which is why the TGen study is so significant, according to the Strales.
During months of chemotherapy treatments, Casey’s only wish was to play hockey again. His inspirational story was about miracles, survival, faith and modern medicine. He played for numerous teams, including the Anaheim Jr. Ducks, where he served as an assistant captain.
Ultimately, Casey’s cancer spread faster than he could find options. More than 1,000 people attended his memorial service at Irvine Inline.
A few things stood out to the Strales during the inaugural Casey’s Cup tournament in 2015. Foremost was the outpouring of support by the hockey community.
“Many of the players noted that they participated in the event to ‘play for Casey’ and everything he stood for, on and off the ice,” the Strales explained. “Our son was affectionately known as the ‘game changer,’ not for what he did on the rink, but for the positive influence he had on everyone around him and in everything he did. Casey’s Cup is our way of sustaining that legacy and making sure he keeps ‘changing the game.’
“When the event sold out and the crowds showed up at Anaheim Ice to celebrate the day, it was an affirmation that the event was something special.”
A total of 63 teams comprised of all ages and skill levels participated last year. The 3-on-3 cross-ice ironman format was so popular with players and spectators alike that it will continue this year.
The dawn-to-night off-ice beach party atmosphere will also return to the Anaheim Ice facility with live bands, food vendors and raffle prizes. Great hockey-related items, hotel stays, Disney passes and gift baskets were toted away by lucky hockey fans at last year’s event that also featured street hockey games in front of the rink for younger guests and appearances by “Wild Wing,” the Anaheim Ducks mascot, and the Anaheim Ducks street team.
Since the inaugural event was such a big success, tournament organizers opted for only a few changes in 2016.
Last year’s event was played entirely on Anaheim Ice’s Olympic rink, but due to popular demand, event staff has also secured the NHL rink this year. This will allow the tournament to feature more games, allow additional time for ice resurfacing and wrap up the festivities a little earlier than in 2015.
The Strales said this year’s goal is to raise $35,013 in funds.
“There will always be a ‘13’ in our donation because that was Casey’s number,” the Strales explained. “He has opened our eyes, made us better friends, better parents but most of all, better people.”
Anaheim Ice is located at 300 W Lincoln Ave., Anaheim.
Donations for cancer research can be made at www.helptgen.org/caseyscup.
— Phillip Brents