Paul Pietraszko

Hockey for Hospice raises $339,063

 

By Jolene Perron

 

“Every year it scares me because every year the pressure is on the following year, but it’s a good thing. This year, we just seemed to blow the doors off.”

Paul Pietraszko, co-organizer of Hockey for Hospice said while the setup is busy and at times can be all consuming, everything “seems to vanish with that first number.” This year, the fundraiser was able to top their goal, once again, bringing in an additional $37,000 in comparison to 2016.

Players of a variety of ages took to the ice Dec. 27 through Dec. 29 for Hockey for Hospice. The tournament spanned over five area arenas, and brought in a total of $339,063 for Hospice, which is up from last year.

The fundraiser was originally begun as a skate-a-thon at the now-demolished AMA Arena, which was founded by Tim Beaulieu. Pietraszko explained Beaulieu was in need of Hospice and he felt, after seeing what they do, that Hospice was where he needed to focus his energy. Pietraszko said the tournament since then has “grown (by) leaps and bounds,” thanks to their family, friends, and community partners.

Across five arenas including the Libro Centre, a total of 145 teams played 318 games of hockey. The tournament included approximately 2,100 players, as well as all of their families and relatives who came out to watch the games, and all of the local arenas were simply bursting at the seams during the three-day tournament Dec. 27 through Dec. 29.

Players of a variety of ages took to the ice Dec. 27 through Dec. 29 for Hockey for Hospice. The tournament spanned over five area arenas, and brought in a total of $339,063 for Hospice, which is up from last year.

“I’m speechless with the amount of work they have done, even right up to last minute, bringing in new parts to the program, parts to the event all in support of Hospice. When you ask how I feel about it, amazed, and absolutely grateful for the support that they give,” said Stephen Brennan, senior director for Hospice. “It provides the opportunity for hospice to keep offering our services without fees.”

Players of a variety of ages took to the ice Dec. 27 through Dec. 29 for Hockey for Hospice. The tournament spanned over five area arenas, and brought in a total of $339,063 for Hospice, which is up from last year.

In total, the fundraiser, which has been in existence for 22 years, has brought in more than $2.6 million for Hospice. Every year they have been able to say they topped the previous year, and this year is no different. In addition to the growing sum of money, the tournament itself continues to grow – this year, they had an additional 13 teams. Pietraszko explained the tournament grows consistently every year, and they have no idea what the final number can, or will be, all they know is it will continue to run.

“It’s the kids that do it, and they’ve done a phenomenal job with all the money they have raised,” said Pietraszko. “The kids can ask, but the people have to give and the people just keep giving and giving. Every year we get nervous about whether we’re going to get enough referees, get enough ice, and we always seem to get it. It will always be something exciting, it usually gets a little bit scary, but then that first puck is dropped, and the pledge money comes in and everything is fine.”

Hockey for Hospice sets records in 20th anniversary tournament

 

 

Amherstburg Romano's (red jerseys) took on LaSalle McDonald's Orange Crush Monday afternoon at the Libro Centre.

Amherstburg Romano’s (red jerseys) took on LaSalle McDonald’s Orange Crush Monday afternoon at the Libro Centre.

By Ron Giofu

 

It was a milestone year for the Hockey for Hospice tournament and a record-setting one to boot.

The tournament celebrated its 20th anniversary and raised $275,720 this year. That brings the overall fundraising total to over $2.3 million over the 20 years. The tournament also featured 121 teams and 256 games over the three days of the event.

“It’s incredible,” said Laura Lemmon, community engagement and events specialist with the Hospice of Windsor & Essex County. “Every year, we don’t think we can top what we did last year but we do.”

Lemmon credited the players – who ranged in age from tyke to bantam – for going out and raising the money. She added they not only raise a lot of cash, but they raise awareness of Hospice and the programs and services it offers.

The tournament was played at four arenas and nine ice pads with rinks in Amherstburg, LaSalle, Lakeshore and Tecumseh being used. Lemmon said part of the success is due to it being held over the Christmas holidays with players getting to enjoy the holidays playing hockey with their friends.

The event started two decades ago as a skate-a-thon at the old AMA Arena and has grown from there. This year’s tournament also featured the involvement of local Jr. C teams such as the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals, the Essex 73’s and the Lakeshore Canadiens. The Jr. B LaSalle Vipers also helped out.

Tim Beaulieu, co-chair of the tournament with Paul Pietraszko, recalled their beginnings with a “handful of kids” at the old rink as a way to give back to Hospice.

“We keep getting bigger and bigger,” he said.

Pee Wee action in the 20th annual Hockey for Hospice tournament included a game between Amherstburg Refac (green) and the Riverside Greyhounds. Amherstburg's Cody Renaud heads out on a breakaway during a Dec. 28 game in Amherstburg.

Pee Wee action in the 20th annual Hockey for Hospice tournament included a game between Amherstburg Refac (green) and the Riverside Greyhounds. Amherstburg’s Cody Renaud heads out on a breakaway during a Dec. 28 game in Amherstburg.

Beaulieu added the number of volunteers it takes to put the tournament on is “substantial” and thanked them for their work.

“A lot of them have been doing it for ten years,” said Beaulieu.

Having the Hockey for Hospice tournament grow to where it is today was something he would have never imagined when the event was in its infancy.

“Not in my wildest dreams,” he said. “When it started, it was a way to give back and raise a little money for Hospice.”

The tournament is now “a staple” during the Christmas holidays in Windsor-Essex County.

“The kids never disappoint,” Beaulieu added. “At their young ages, they are giving back to the community. You just sit back and smile.”

Money raised will benefit Hospice’s programs and services.