Give Blood Play Hockey event proves that ‘humanity is good’
The highlight of this year’s 12th annual Give Blood Play Hockey inline hockey charity tournament, held Oct. 18-21 at The Rinks-Irvine Inline, was the organization passing the $1 million mark in total donations to Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and the TGen Foundation.
Tournament co-founder Mary Korus said this year’s event brought the total donations over the past 12 years to $1,073,971.93. The total is still going up as fundraising continues, she said.
“The total donation over the past 12 years has been impressive,” Korus underscored.
While the monetary donations continue to build over the history of the event, so has another important part of the organization’s work: blood donations.
Korus said the effort from the community has allowed the tournament to pass 3,500 pints of donated blood over the history of the event.
“We collected 497 thus far this year and we are working on hosting another Give Blood Play Hockey Blood drive this year, maybe two, so that number will hopefully go up,” she was happy to report.
Seventeen new division champions will have their names added to the perpetual Blood Cup, symbolic of on-the-rink success at the tournament.
Play was contested at this year’s event in divisions ranging from 6U through adult, including a Pro Division and a Women’s Division.
“It was pretty amazing,” Korus said in regard to participation in the once again sold-out tournament. “We had 11 women’s teams and, as a female hockey player, it makes me really proud to have an event that welcomes a women’s division – and they came out in such force.”
The Give Blood Play Hockey mission statement continues to be embraced by the Southern California hockey community.
Korus noted that community lemon “aid” stands brought in more than $2,288. The Guertin twins, Carla and Catherine, who have been active in this project for several years, donated $2,000 from the work they do in the community, Korus pointed out.
“They also volunteered all weekend long working multiple posts,” Korus added. “Their parents are such huge supporters of our event. Carin Guertin organized all volunteers this year and was given the Volunteer of the Year award.”
Five-year-old Asher Klaff was inspired to host his own lemon “aid” stand in which he and his friends collected $288.
“We love when the younger generation works to help kids like them who are battling cancer,” Korus said.
Samantha Mayer received the coveted Machine Award that is named after one of the tournament co-founders, Julie Ruff.
“The award goes to the volunteer who we could not have done the event without,” Korus said. “Samantha, who every year had taken on more and more responsibility, organized and coordinated the entire silent auction and raffle, which is a huge job.”
Korus called the special Million Dollar Celebration held as part of this year’s event “surreal.”
“I would say one of the key things about this year and the Million Dollar Celebration that got me the most was when we got all of the Give Blood Play Hockey volunteers on the stage,” Korus said. “Looking around, I couldn’t believe the amount of people that came together to make the event such a huge success. It was really amazing. Many have been with us for 12 years and some were here Year 1. It was just really a testament to the event, the cause and the family we have built.
“People were amazed when I told the crowd that we are a 100 percent volunteer organization, proving that humanity is good.”
Among the several keynote speakers who delivered inspirational messages to guests during the Million Dollar Celebration on Oct. 20-21 were Dr. Steven Neudorf, a specialist in pediatric oncology who serves as the clinical director of the blood and marrow transplant program at CHOC Children’s, as well as Simone Tipton and Erin Greco, who spoke on their respective families’ experiences at CHOC, the importance of blood donations and updates on their children.
Foothill High School senior Sydney Sigafus, who is one year out of treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma and was named this year’s Homecoming queen at her school, talked about her experience with cancer as a child and her experience at CHOC.
Her treatment included six rounds of chemotherapy prior to surgery and eight rounds afterward.
“Hearing from people that benefit from the work that we do is so vital,” Korus said. “It pushes forward our mission to Give Blood. Play Hockey. Fight Cancer. It is what makes an all-volunteer organization possible.
“When those confetti cannons went off announcing we had surpassed our million-dollar goal, standing on stage with representatives from CHOC, the Ducks, THE RINKS, our title sponsors Pacific Premier Bank and Pathway Capital, and all our volunteers, it was just wow. That type of pride and feeling of accomplishment is a very rare phenomenon.”
Photos/John Tobin/The Photography Specialist
— Phillip Brents
(Nov. 22, 2018)