Like most 12-year old kids in the Greater Toronto Area, Mark Mannarn is an avid hockey fan. This past season, he played on the North York Knights Peewee AA team of the GTHL. The Knights had a great season, winning the Kraft Cup Champions tournament.
But as much as he loves hockey, Mannarn has a greater challenge on his mind
Having lost his grandmother to pancreatic cancer in December of 2010, the youngster also had to deal with his mother Judy learning she had breast cancer.
The very thought of losing a loved one, or even learning learning of another's illness, would be heartbreaking to most, and a combination of the two could be devastating. For Mannarn it clearly could have been, but he wasn't going to take this sitting on the bench.
"I love hockey. And I hate cancer,"is Mannarn's motto, and he won't be taking on this fight alone.
After some inspiration from a program offered at his school Mark, with support from his parents, came up with with a phenomenal idea. Minor Hockey Fights Cancer - Feel Like a Pro Day is an event for minor hockey players such as himself to raise funds to fight cancer, learn from the pros and enjoy the game of hockey at the same time.
With a target goal of $100,000 the Canadian Cancer Society expressed great interest in the event and corporate sponsorship came in from all directions. The target amount seems well on it's way to be exceeded as Mark's fund raising alone had already topped $10,000 by April!
"Mark's vision for bringing together his passion for hockey and his determination to fight cancer is truly inspirational and heart-warming," said Duncan Hannay, Senior Vice-President of Marketing for Scotiabank, Canada. "As Canada's Hockey Bank, we're thrilled to sponsor an exciting event that will engage young people in the fight against the disease affecting so many Canadian families."
Throw in two members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and a pair of surprise guests instructors, and this truly will be one amazing event on June 18th.
Leading the pack of hockey legends is Paul Coffey, a friend of the Mannarn family, who immediately stepped forward to help out. "My father passed a way a year ago (to cancer)," Coffey said. "My dad would say, 'Cancer plays no favorites,' it affects us all. There's a lot of great charity events out there, but I can't think of one any better than this."
Joining Coffey will be fellow Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk. The remaining two pros were to be announced last week, but event organizers have opted to keep the participants in suspense.
The first 240 children to register and raise $200 in sponsorship get to participate in the event, which features an on ice session with one of the hockey pros.
The top-30 of the pack, guaranteed to those who raise $1000 or more, will then get a chance to play in the "All-Star" game with all four of the all-time greats. The top-3 will receive an Ipad for their amazing efforts. A silent auction will also be held throughout the day.
Minor Hockey Fights Cancer - Feel Like a Pro Day takes place Saturday June 18th at Canlan Ice Sports York at York University (989 Murray Ross Parkway, North York, Ontario M3J 3M4.
If you would like to donate to this amazing and inspirational event, you can do so by sponsoring a registered player via the website, or text "MHFC" to 20222 to donate $5 to the Canadian Cancer Society. A one-time donation of $5 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance.