Hockey Marathon receives an overwhelming amount of support from community

hockey marathon raises funds

As of Saturday, more than $600,000 was raised.

The Hockey Marathon for the Kids players completed 261 hours of hockey in support of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

The puck dropped on March 31 at the Chestermere Rec Centre, and 40 players raised funds for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation for pediatric cancer research by playing hockey until April 11.

Chestermere hosted the Guinness World Record for the World’s Longest Hockey Game in 2012 raising $1.2 million, and $1.7 million in 2014.

“The Marathon is going wonderful. We hit our halfway mark; 6:30 am on Wednesday. The players are powering through the mental fatigue, but their bodies are worn down. However, we are ensuring that they are looked after and treated well. We have hit our halfway goal as well in funds raised but need to get more,” Hockey Marathon Media Director Lesley Plumley said.

Players are spending up to 18 hours a day on the ice, four hours at a time. When they aren’t playing, they are alternating breaks to eat, sleep, or receive physio and massage therapy. 

The funds raised from the game will support cancer research at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute into immunotherapy.

The goal of the research is to create gentler, more effective treatments and cures that minimize the adverse side effects of current therapies, an Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation media release said.

“We know these players are exhausted and are pushing through injuries while on shift, which makes their dedication to the kids and families at the Alberta Children’s Hospital even more inspiring,” President and CEO of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Saifa Koonar said. “We are grateful and in awe of what they are doing, and the sacrifices they and their families are making, and we hope they can hear us rooting for them knowing their efforts will help children today, and for years to come.” 

Within the first three days, more than 400 cups of coffee were consumed, by day four 200 rubber duckies were placed in the cold water baths for the players, by day five, 160 cheeseburgers, 25 lbs of chicken fingers were consumed, and five cases of 100 sets of earplugs had to be purchased due to loud snoring, by day seven 42 lbs of candy has been consumed on the bench, and 480 massages were given to the players.

When players started to feel physical and mental fatigue, the community came out to show their support, boost morale, and motivate the players to keep skating.

Wednesday was the halfway point of the marathon, and although players were holding strong, they were feeling worn down.

One of the biggest supporters of the marathon, Colton, stopped by which gave the players the morale boost they needed.

“Colton and his sister were tossing rubber duckies at Josh Esler while he was in the cold tub, and they all had a splashing good time. They then decided to treat themselves with some relaxation by testing out the massage chairs and massage boost,” a hockey marathon media release said. “Colton also brought the players a basket of all his favourite treats and left each team a heartwarming note.”

Players’ family members also brought in their pets for visits, and local daycares and schools stopped by to cheer on the players.

A visit from the team lead of the Alberta Cellular Therapy and Immune Oncology Initiative (ACTION) Dr. Doug Mahoney also inspired the players to keep going.

Mahoney’s research into immunotherapy is being supported by donations made directly through Hockey Marathon for the Kids, a media release said.

Sarah Tahir, a 17-year-old Calgary cancer survivor also came down to cheer on the players and thank each player for what they are doing. 

“The players are going through part of the journey where their emotions are high. Players are appreciative of the support and the crowd, even during late-night shifts,” the release said. 

On Saturday, the rec centre was buzzing with spectators, and donations continued rolling in. Country music artist Drew Gregory performed acoustically to encourage the players, and World Professional Chuckwagon Association driver Jordie Fike came to cheer on the players.

On Saturday players were feeling beaten down with a lot of feet challenges and cramping. 

Visit the hockey marathon website for more information and to donate.

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