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Braestone Winter Classic nets more than $152K for cancer centre

Event in support of Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre a hit despite move to ball hockey format

The Braestone Winter Classic charity hockey tournament raised more than $152,000 on Saturday for the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH).

Due to recent mild temperatures, this year's event was a ball hockey tournament at the Braestone Club in Oro-Medonte. It is usually a pond hockey event.

"We were hoping right up to the last minute that we would have safe ice to skate on," said organizer Ted Markle. "Mother Nature didn't want to co-operate."

Despite trading ice for asphalt, Markle says the event had a fantastic atmosphere, resembling "small-town Canada at its best."

"The sky is blue and the sun is shining. I think everybody is a little more excited as a result of that," he said.

Markle was impressed by the goodwill of players, sponsors and volunteers who supported the event this year despite the challenges with the weather.

"Everybody is happy," he said. "The energy is super positive and the games today have been super passionate but yet very friendly."

He says the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre is a more-than-worthy cause for the fundraiser.

"So many people have been touched by cancer directly or indirectly. It's a meaningful cause for so many people," he said.

The inspiration behind the event is Markle's brother, Jeff, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer affecting his esophagus, stomach and liver. Jeff succumbed to the disease more than two years ago.

"His spirit is here today," Markle said. "When you see people having fun, making new friends, laughing, and making memories together, this is where my brother would shine."

Playing in the tournament Saturday for the third consecutive year was Lauren Firth, who made the trip from Barrie.

"I started playing in this for my mom," she said. "My mom had breast cancer twice and she received care at RVH both times."

Firth says playing in the tournament is a way for her to give back to the doctors and nurses who cared for her mom.

"The year that the tournament started was the same year my mom passed away," she said. "This is something we can do in her honour."

Firth once played ice hockey for Dalhousie University. She assembled her team Saturday with former teammates and friends from her hockey journey.

"We all come back and play together once in a while for things like this," she said. "A lot of us have kids and don't get to see each other very often, so It's nice to get together and hang out."

Markle says the plan is for the Braestone Winter Classic to return to its pond hockey roots in 2025.

"We will continue to think about contingency plans and ways to lower the risk," he said. "With that said, we definitely plan on having our pond hockey tournament next year."

All players who registered for this year's event will be welcomed back for free in 2025.

"Everyone has expressed a strong desire to be back," Markle said. "That gives us confidence and optimism for the future."


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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