Cancer survivor fundraises for research via pro-am hockey tournament

A cancer survivor is using his love for hockey to raise funds for cancer research in Windsor-Essex.

Proceeds will go to the Cancer Research Collaboration Fund

Jeff Casey, cancer survivor and lead organizer for the tournament, says they are well underway to meeting their fundraising goal. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

A pro-am hockey tournament is the latest fundraiser for cancer research in Windsor-Essex.

Play for a Cure has started recruiting players and volunteers for the March events, where teams will get to play alongside former NHL players.

"They're all very good guys that have lots of great stories, they all have big hearts," said Jeff Casey, cancer survivor and lead organizer.

Top fundraising teams will get their top pick of players during the draft party March 28. Players who have signed onto the event are Adam Graves, Dennis Maruk, Marty McSorley, John Ogrodnick, Marty Turco and Todd Warriner. They're hoping to have two more NHL alumni join the event.

The goal is to raise a net of $100,000, all of it going to the Cancer Research Collaboration Fund.

Casey recalled the time when he fighting his cancer, which involved six rounds of chemotherapy.

"I went through six rounds of chemo," he said. "I was diagnosed the day after my daughter was born. It was a crazy time."

"I really want to make an impact and have fewer cancer cases. More cancer survivors."

Dora Cavallo-Medved, professor at the University of Windsor, said the new research fund will help support cancer research projects, purchase equipment, train students and more at the Windsor Cancer Research Group.

She said even though there are some local research programs, a bulk of the funding each year comes from national grants.

"It really is millions of dollars, and that has to come in every year," she said.

Dora Cavallo-Medved says the research fund will help support projects, equipment purchases and training students. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

She said the group has 25 "heavily-involved cancer researchers," but the membership expands to 300 once you include health care professionals, students and trainees in the count.

There are some clinical trials in the community that are "serving our patients well," said Cavallo-Medved.

Casey said they're about 60 per cent to meeting their fundraising goal.

Right now the teams are recruiting players, who need to commit to fundraising $300 each to join. Each team has the minimum goal of raising $4,200.

The tournament will take place during the day on Friday, March 29. Then that night, the top fundraising individuals will play against the Detroit Red Wing Alumni team.

The tournament and game will be held at the Atlas Tube Centre. The public can purchase tickets to watch the games.

With files from Dale Molnar