Saturday, June 15, 2013

16 teams, 3 days, 1 goal: Make CF History

Keep Calm and Cure CF
Four years ago, when I sat down at a Tim Hortons with my good friend Chuck Scott to discuss what it would take to create a hockey tournament to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, I envisioned 16 teams coming together for a weekend of fun and hockey to raise money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis.  A few cups of coffee and some rough doughnut-napkin math later, the Make CF History Charity Classic was born.

The 2013 Make CF History Charity Classic, our 3rd annual event, was everything I had envisioned that Sunday morning four years ago - 16 teams, coming together for a 3-day tournament weekend, all sharing in the one goal behind the Make CF History campaign: finding a cure for CF.  For the first time, we had three full divisions to accommodate three different skill levels - with teams from Dayton, Cleveland, St. Clair, MI, and Columbus filling the divisions. 

Fund Raising Perspective

This year we asked the players to fund raise instead of paying a flat team fee in order to participate.  And fund raise they did - helping us raise over $51,000 as of the time of this writing, with more money still trickling in.  

Our top fund raising team was Chuck Scott's Hatrick Swayze (right), who raised an event leading $6,185!  Thank you guys!

When I think of the weekend from this perspective, it illustrates one very important fact:  although we were 16 different teams wearing 16 different jerseys (a formality in order to distinguish two teams from each other during the games), we were really one team - a team consisting of 235 players joined together to participate in the fight to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.  And for this, I am so very grateful for the players and their time and energy they put into being a part of our 2013 Make CF History Charity Classic.  We will always be Team MakeCFHistory.

The Player Perspective

The 'charity classic' always has been, and always will be, about putting the players first.  It is about creating an event that provides the players a first-class experience, such that they come back year after year.  This includes more than just hockey - it includes free "SWAG" (Stuff We All Get), complimentary food and beverages, game jersey and socks, a Skills Competition and places for the players to hang out together before and after the games.  

The player's pride and enthusiasm of playing in our event is evidenced in the pictures and comments we see on Facebook and Twitter, whether it be updating their profile pictures of them in action from the weekend, or tweeting pictures (left) and positive comments (below) of their time while at the event.  

Thank you players for all of your support and participation - without you there is no event, and we hope to see you all again next year!

And now, the rest of the story...

The Ceremonial Puck Drops

This year, we were blessed to have four very special people with us to drop pucks in our ceremonial opening face-offs to kick off our Friday night games.  All four of our "VIP" guests brought to life the purpose of our weekend as they each are living with CF.

Kate Hennessey (left) kicked off the event by dropping the puck before our first game of the weekend.  Kate is the daughter of Marie Hennessey, who is a member of the Board of Director for the CF Foundation of Central Ohio and is the Chair Person of the Fore-Love Golf Outing (taking place September 9, 2013 at Brookside Country Club).

Thomas Mims (right), a Sports Journalism student from Kentucky, came all the way up from Lexington to join us.

Taylor Monturo (left) joined us with her parents from right here in Columbus.

And Colin Mong (right), a CF patient awaiting a double-lung transplant from the Cleveland Clinic, capped off the night by dropping the puck before the opening game of his namesake team, Team Colin, who dedicated their tournament to Colin.  Team Colin would end up winning the Experienced Division, which is a fitting outcome for a team who dedicated their weekend to Colin - who we are all now rooting for to "win" in his battle against CF.

The Lady from Mansfield, OH

At one point in the morning on Saturday, I received an email notification of a donation made on my player page from an "Iona Flores".  I did not know of anyone by this name, and quickly wrote it off to someone who intended to make a donation to another player and made it to me in error.  Later that afternoon, I walked into the lobby of the rink and noticed a lady at the check-in table talking with the staff from the CF Foundation.  As I approached them, the lady turned to me and asked, "Are you Chad?"  "Yes I am", I replied.  "I am Iona Flora", she exclaimed as she reached to shake my hand.  "You made a donation on my player page!", I countered.  "Yes, I did.", she replied.  I couldn't help but forgo a handshake to give Iona a big hug.  She went on to tell us that she had found us on Facebook, and that she came down from Mansfield to be a part of our event.  She also shared that she has two grandchildren living with CF in Texas.  It is moments like these, and people like Iona, who make the Make CF History Charity Classic so special - it brings together people from all over (hockey fans or not) who share in our aspiration to find a cure for CF.  And it is moments like these that make me question the 'fact' that CF effects only 30,000 people in the US - when it seems that most everyone I meet and know have a connection to CF.  Thank you Iona for being there this weekend, and for making my weekend so special.

The Kids Charity Game

This year we ended the weekend with our 2nd Annual Kid's Charity Game.  We hosted two teams consisting of Mites and future Squirts who, like the adult players, were asked to fund raise instead of paying a flat fee.  And, like the adult players, fund raise they did - raising nearly $2,000!   
The game was kicked off with a very special ceremonial opening face-off puck drop by CF patient Serena Scilia (below), who's dad Sam also treated the kids and parents to a very heart-felt explanation of Cystic Fibrosis before the game got started.  And this year, all of the kids jerseys were numbered with the number "65".  Sam eloquently explained the significance of the number "65" to the kids and parents - which is of course symbolic of "65 Roses", what most kids often call cystic fibrosis because "65 roses" is easier to pronounce.   
Thank you to all of the parents and kids who participated in this very special aspect of the weekend.  And, a very special thank you to Sam Scilia and his daughter Serena for making the event that much more special.

Friends and family - new and old

The best part of organizing an event like the Make CF History Charity Classic is getting to see my friends and family, who come from near and far to be there.  With that, I also get to meet so many incredible people who by the end of the weekend are my new found "family".

To our incredible Organizing Committee, all of the volunteers, the players, our sponsors, and to the staff of the Chiller Ice Rink - I wish I could one-by-one shake everyone's hand, give you all a hug, and thank you for making this year's 'charity classic' so special - and for joining Team MakeCFHistory.  

We will be the generation that finds the cure for CF.

THANK YOU to everyone who supported the 2013 Make CF History Charity Classic!

Friday, May 17, 2013

"Team Colin" gives perspective to this year's 'charity classic'

One great benefit that comes with organizing the Make CF History Charity Classic is all of the people I get to meet who I might not otherwise have had a chance to.

Last year we welcomed Trevor Umlah, the goalie who joined us all the way from Halifax, Novia Scotia.  And we now know that he is not just any ordinary goalie, nor any ordinary person for that matter.  His story is an inspiration to all of us who have been affected by CF in one way or another, and we are looking forward to having Trevor with us at our event this year.

This year brings to us another inspiring story - one that exemplifies what our event is all about, and one that will keep everything in perspective for us throughout our event weekend.

When team captain Steve Lopez entered his team - "Team Colin" - in this year's event, he reached out to me afterward with a brief explanation of what his team name represented.  I asked Steve if it would be OK to share his story, and he kindly obliged. And so, here it is:
The story behind Team Colin begins with my connection to Sherry Mong, whose Ph.D. dissertation I supervised in the sociology department at OSU. Sherry's son Colin has CF, and over the years as Sherry progressed through our graduate program, I learned from Sherry about CF and how it affected her son and her family. As she wrote her dissertation on the experiences of family caregivers who perform medically complex home care, I learned more about her family's CF story. Earlier this year, I suggested to my Wednesday night hockey team that we enter the 2013 Make CF History Tournament, and I told them a little bit about my connection to Sherry's family, Colin, and CF. One of the guys immediately said, "That's very cool, man - we should enter the tournament and name the team after him!" So, with Colin's blessing, that's what we're doing. Team Colin is dedicating our effort in the tournament to Colin Mong and his fight against CF. We hope he will soon receive the lung transplant he needs!

And with that, meet Colin Mong:
My name is Colin Mong, and I was diagnosed with CF a few months after birth. With rigorous lung clearance and frequent antibiotic intervention, I was able to enjoy childhood relatively unrestricted. For years I could participate in the "normal" day-to-day activities alongside my peers, attending school and developing a variety of relationships and hobbies. In high school I played on the tennis team, and acquired interests especially in music (piano and singing), psychology, and philosophy. For the past few years I've attended Transylvania University in Lexington, KY, studying psychology and philosophy, and hoping eventually to earn a doctorate in psychology to become a psychotherapist for the VA. This semester I had to take a medical leave from school, and am living at home to await a double-lung transplant with the Cleveland Clinic. I spend my days keeping up with my friends and girlfriend in Lexington, writing and playing piano music, reading, and trying my hand at writing some stories and poetry. After the surgery, I'll return to Transy as a Junior! I want to say thank you to all those who support the Charity Classic tournament! It helps to know that people really care! 

It's stories like Colin's, and people like Steve and his team, that make this event so special.  Their stories gives us perspective - they remind us that while we have 16 teams playing in our event, we really have one team - one team of over 220 players that will come together on the weekend of June 7th - 9th to join in on the fight to find a cure for CF...and to make CF "history" (a thing of the past).

Thank you Steve and Colin for sharing your story and for being such an integral part of this year's charity classic!