The 11-Day Power Play kicked off with a tribute to some of those lost to cancer over the past year before a full crowd at HarborCenter last night. The hockey marathon founded by Mike and Amy Lesakowski also reached its $1 million goal for cancer research on its first day again.
Mike Lesakowski says the hockey marathon opened last night at HarborCenter with $900,000 of its $1 million goal already in hand. But then....
"It was creeping up $998,000, $999,000 and a couple of the guys were out having an after-skate beverage and two of the guys said, 'You know, we gotta see this website flip to $1 million,' and in true fashion of our guys, two of the guys stepped up," he said. "Each donated $500 so we could watch it all together flip over to the $1 million mark. That happened about 1 o'clock in the morning last night."
Lesakowski said he will be "so excited" if this second year of the event exceeds last year's fundraising total.
"You know, we've got over 1,500 players this year, so every four hours we've got new people coming in and out, so I fully expect that we pull in another chunk of change from now until the end of the event," he said, "We have 10 more days to go and lots of merchandise to sell, lots of people to come in and out of the doors. So it's very feasible that we exceed last year's total, which was $1.2 million."
Last year, 40 players were recruited to raise money for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. They played 251 straight hours of hockey to earn a Guiness World record for the longest hockey game.
This year, 120 teams are taking to the ice, with a new team every four hours over the 11 days. Camp Good Days and Special Times and the Make-a-Wish Foundation also will benefit from funds raised.
There is plenty more hockey to play. It continues through July 15 at 6 p.m. and Lesakowski hopes opening up play to the community helps surpass last year's inaugural event.
"We've got all kinds of cool stuff," he said. "We've got our original guys, we've got youth teams, we've got girl teams, we've got father-sone teams, we've got company teams, we've got high school reunions, we've got college reunions - all kinds of interesting groups of people who have played together over the years," he said, "and it's really been a lot of fun."