The first annual Braestone Winter Classic Charity Pond Hockey Tournament is set for Family Day weekend at Braestone Farm in Oro-Medonte Township. The event is a fundraiser for the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre (SMRCC)
“When we were trying to come up with a way to give back to the community, we thought what could be more Canadian than a pond hockey tournament?” asked Ted Markle, organizer of the event.
“We wanted to do something where a lot of people and families can have a great time outdoors in the middle of February.”
Already the event has already raised more than $28,000 of the $40,000 fundraising goal for SMRCC.
“So many people have been touched by cancer, whether it’s directly or indirectly through the journeys and battles of loved ones,” he said.
On a personal level, Markle lost his brother Jeff to cancer suddenly last summer.
“He was the perfect person to attend a hockey tournament with. No one was more fun to attend a tournament with. His camaraderie, his sense of humour, his passion for the game ... he brought a smile to everyone in the dressing room and during the socializing after a tournament,” he said.
Markle is also a patient of SMRCC; he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma four years ago.
“I’ve received nothing but exceptional care, even during the pandemic. The SMRCC has amazed me with their compassion, the professionalism, the dedication from the people who work there,” he said.
“The pandemic has put an extra layer of stress on everyone, and you could just imagine working in a chemo ward of a cancer centre. It couldn’t have been easy over the past two years, but these people just amaze me, it’s been so touching," he explained.
Markle says he is truly moved by the effort that has been put in by the group of volunteers on the tournament organizing committee, as well as Jamie Massie and his team at Georgian International who has helped pull the tournament together.
“We are all searching for reasons to feel good and have a positive outlook during these trying times, and I found that with the organizing committee members who have worked so hard with such a positive attitude, it’s been inspiring,” he said.
Markle says event organizers are working with the Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit to make sure the event is held as safely and responsibly as possible.
He says 16 teams will face off on Feb. 18 and 19, and spots are filling up quickly. Spectator tickets will also be made available in the coming weeks for families who want to take part in other winter activities at the farm.
“There is going to be a horse-drawn sleigh and a snowman building contest. We really want it to be a feel-good moment because we haven’t had a lot of those over the last couple of years,” he said.
To register or for more information, click here.