Leap Towards A Cure a Success!

Posted August 8, 2010

A few weeks ago this very blog promoted a charity hockey tournament I helped put together, Leap Towards A Cure. Thanks to the support of the metropolitan DC hockey community, a bevy of small business sponsors, and volunteers like Ben from Capitals Outsider, who put in a few hours scorekeeping and picked the raffle winners, the tournament was a success and we raised almost $9,000 toward cancer diagnosis, treatment, and research at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. The entire event weekend was in honor of Andrea “Froggy” Henderson, who taught art at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, MD and sponsored the club hockey team there for ten years, who passed away in April from breast cancer.

Topper for a custom cake baked and decorated by Betsy Secules Kuhns, ERHS '01. Source: Abram Fox

The tournament entailed twelve teams, 181 players, and over thirty hours of on ice action over a day and a half at The Gardens Ice House in Laurel, MD. Most of the players already play in the adult hockey leagues at the Gardens, but several players from as far away as Florida and New York trekked down for the weekend. Another ten referees and ten scorekeepers donated their time to make sure we had enough officials (including Forrest Appleton, who refereed ten of the 21 tournament games!). Over a dozen alumni from the ERHS Ice Raiders hockey club participated as well.

I would be remiss at this point not to congratulate the participants in the tournament for a great weekend of games, particularly the three division winners: Gnu Cats, captained by Andy Boswell; Team TBA, led by Cassie Durand; and Das Boot, captained by Joey Schindler. Winning four hockey games in less than 36 hours is no small feat! The other squads were as follows: Navy Division – Meltdown, Razzle Dazzle, Chesapeake Bay Lightning; Blue Division – 2intheBox, Piranhas, Josh and the Gang; Black Division – Gamblers, Volcanoes, and Blades of Steel.

Goaltender Josh Harab, playing Friday night for Josh and the Gang, gets set to face a shot. Source: Joe Harab.

When Jason Harab, ERHS ’04, and myself began to put together this tournament, it was imperative that we make it an event for the entire community. While Froggy was a huge supporter of the Roosevelt hockey team, she would also proudly proclaim her complete lack of knowledge of all things hockey. She made our team possible because she knew she was dealing with students with enough passion and focus to make it worthwhile, not because she had any personal stake in the sport.

To that end, all day Saturday we transformed the Gardens’ roller hockey rink into an event floor, featuring free and cheap food (including breakfast baked by CIA student Andrea Wolfe-Ralph (ERHS ’04) and a cake decorated and baked by Betsy Secules Kuhns (ERHS ’01), who puts professional cake decorators to shame) , kids activities like broomball, hardest shot competitions, and video games, and an exhibit of works of art by numerous of Froggy’s former art students, spearheaded by the multi-talented Kevin Cook. We held a silent auction and raffle (the prize item, in my mind? A signed headshot of Michael Jenkins donated by Russian Machine Never Breaks), sold merchandise, featured visits from Slapshot and Louie from the Bowie Baysox, and basically had one fine time from breakfast through dinner.

Little known fact: Slapshot is a connoisseur of fine art. Source: Abram Fox.

Ben asked me to write about the on-ice portion of the event, but truth be told he saw just as much action as I did, with all the event wrangling there was to be done. My team, Blades of Steel, lost all three of our games – including the two I played in – but everyone had a great time, or at least that’s what they told me. All three divisions were competitive and the games were great entertainment for all the fans and supporters of Froggy and the Henderson family that showed up and watched.

Prior to the past four months neither Jason and I have planned anything bigger than a cookout or surprise birthday party, but we’re already hard at work for the second annual Leap Towards A Cure tournament some time next year. As a parting thought, I’ve been sharing with everyone I can find some words one of Froggy’s sons sent to us last night, after he visited the tournament for a few hours:

I wanted to thank you. What you did is nothing short of amazing. And honestly it is truly one of the greatest shows of the legacy my mom left behind…You really do help me when I start thinking about all the good she did when she was alive. Thank you again.

When it comes down to it, hockey is all about family. Source: Joe Harab