While the Union College men’s hockey team is out of town this weekend, there will still be plenty of hockey at Messa Rink.
The Messa Mustangs, a D-Level recreational women’s hockey team, will host the eighth annual “Stick It To Brain Tumors” tournament. There is no entry fee, but donations can be made, every dime of which goes toward brain cancer research.
“Brain cancer is really an orphan cancer,” said tournament organizer Debbie Jackson. “That’s why we do this. We want to raise awareness that it affects a lot of people. It’s devastating to a lot of people.”
The tournament involves 14 teams, some local, some from western New York, Connecticut and Vermont, and will run from tonight through Sunday afternoon. A full schedule can be found on the Mustangs’ Facebook page.
Through the tournament’s first seven years, $137,000 has been raised. The goal for this year is $25,000.
“It amazes me. Several of the local teams really go above and beyond just participation in the tournament,” Jackson said. “They help raise funds and help with off-ice officiating and getting donations. It’s really tremendous.”
Other methods of fundraising include raffle tickets. Jackson said there are about 120 items that will be raffled off. There also will be a silent auction, the gem of which will be a Union College hockey jersey autographed by the entire men’s team.
“They’re No. 1 in the country, so that’s got to be worth something, right?” Jackson said. “We’re hoping to generate a lot of money from that.”
Jackson’s passion for the cause is understandable. Her youngest son, Bryan, was diagnosed with a brain tumor days before his 14th birthday. Now 25, the treatment has left him unable to play the game he loved, so Debbie plays it for him.
“He’s one of the very, very lucky ones,” Jackson said. “Depending on the type of brain cancer, the survival rate is not very good. We’re very lucky that he is still with us.
“The surgeries have been fairly devastating for him, physically. It’s difficult for him to move on his right side because the tumor was on the left side. So those are the things we’re fighting for — better treatment options and better research, so people can have better recoveries from this.”