Give Blood Play Hockey: A million reasons to celebrate
The Give Blood Play Hockey charity inline hockey tournament celebrated a milestone in 2016 with its 10th anniversary event. The organization is poised to reach a perhaps more meaningful milestone with this year’s tournament, which is scheduled Oct. 18-21 at The Rinks-Irvine Inline.
If all goes well, this year’s donation total to Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) will surpass the $1 million mark – a figure tournament staff pledged in 2008 to achieve by 2019.
“It was after our second tournament and I remember the day we committed to donating $1 million to CHOC Children’s and thinking how will we ever be able to make that a reality,” GBPH tournament co-founder Mary Korus said. “When we made that commitment, we were making $50,000 a year, so it was a pretty bold commitment. But we will surpass that goal. It is so amazing.”
In 2011, Give Blood Play Hockey made a $50,000 pledge to CHOC to fund a medication station on the oncology floor of the new wing of the hospital. Korus said the combination of the tournament hosting a record-breaking of 84 teams and the generous outpouring of donations and support from the hockey community allowed the organization to complete the pledge in a single weekend.
The $50,000 donation made for the patient care room and medication station counts toward the overall $1 million goal.
“I remember that day so well,” Korus said. “We were so proud that we were able to make a tangible impact on the lives of the kids at CHOC. The community really rallied around the cause and all the energy that we put behind our tournament ambassador Casey Strale‘s fight.”
Blood donations, another key element of the GBPH platform, continue to rise hand-in-hand with the dollar figure amount.
Last year’s event set benchmarks with $165,000 in funds raised and 495 pints of blood donated. The 11-year total stands at $916,501 in funds raised and 3,068 pints of donated blood.
“Our goal this year is to surpass 3,500 pints donated which will bring our total potential lives saved to more than 10,000 people,” Korus noted. “As always we love to encourage first time donors.”
Give Blood Play Hockey has already held four community blood drives this summer.
“They blew it out of the water,” Korus said. “Pacific Premier Bank is a title sponsor and has been committed to Give Blood Play Hockey since Day 1. Their success was unreal. We are still in shock.”
Other pre-event blood drives include those hosted by the Lake Ariel (Pa.) Fire Department (46 pints), Team Niko and Monkey Sport (24 pints) and The Rinks- Huntington Beach (29 pints).
“That brings our total to 186 pint going in to this year’s event,” Korus pointed out. “Our goal is to donate 500 this year.”
A sold-out field of 115 teams is expected at this year’s tournament.
A variety of food trucks will cater to the culinary tastes of guests. A silent auction and raffle are also scheduled, as is a “Million Dollar” celebration featuring a lineup of special guests on Oct. 20.
“As always, our goal is to make this event fun for people of all ages — young players just beginning their hockey careers to adult teams that come together each year to play with old friends,” Korus explained. “We are so proud that this event has a place for the whole hockey community and it is something that everyone looks forward to each year to start the hockey season. It will be a party from start to finish!”
For more information, visit givebloodplayhockey.org.
— Phillip Brents
(Oct. 6, 2018)