Celebrating 251 hours of hope

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Players play in the World's Longest Hockey Game at Saiker's Acres near Sherwood Park, Alberta on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Funds raised go to cancer research through the Alberta Cancer Foundation. The game runs through Feb. 19. Photo by Ian Kucerak / Postmedia

Good newspaper people will warn reporters the danger of re-telling a story over, and over … and over again.

I especially remember my young reporting years when I’d be so personally invested in a story — which, can be a negative thing and risks losing objectivity — I’d almost beg my assignment editor to let me write another piece on it.

They seldom, if ever, said a word. Rather, they would smile, slowly shake their head — and then reach for a press release to give to me for that day’s assignment.

Yet, there are some stories that touch us on so many levels. There are, too, so many countless story lines of people giving and caring in extraordinary ways which celebrates humanity and the sense of community.

Which brings us to — anyone want to take a guess? — the World’s Longest Hockey Game. Late Monday evening and through Tuesday morning, reporters were still sharing the magic, the compassion, the sense of accomplishment and the thousands of aching joints and other injuries that come, part and parcel, with playing a hockey game for more than 250 hours. The word is it’s an unofficial world record, which surely will be recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Because what happened for 10 days, southeast of Sherwood Park, just off Range Road 220, known as Saiker’s Acres, deserves to be celebrated throughout the world for the incredible hope they bestow on people who are living with cancer.

The game is the brainchild of Dr. Brent Saik, who lost both his father Terry and his wife Susan to cancer. He took to the game he loves, hockey, to make a difference.

Raise some money.

Buy equipment.

Fund some programs.

And, yes: Brent and his followers have done that, contributing more than $3.4 million to the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

But, perhaps he’s done something even more profound: given hope.

The human spirit can answer some of life’s greatest challenges with grace and grit. The 40 hockey players who played in the game put their own lives on hold for 10 days to eat, drink, sleep and play hockey. They persevered in -40 C weather, in the darkness of the night, in their own minds, in pain and so many other obstacles which could make it so easy to take their gear off and say, “That’s it. See you later. I’m goin’ home.”

One word comes to mind. Character.

It’s impossible to compare someone going through a journey with cancer to the World’s Longest Hockey Game.

Yet, perhaps we are encouraged and gain strength from different platforms. We can only hope those who are dealing with cancer know they aren’t facing their struggle in silence. There are many fundraising events where people test their own limits so, somehow, the pain, the mental anguish and the fear of enduring a journey with cancer is lightened.

Such a gesture needs to be celebrated in the highest form.

And those heroic tales must be continued to be told in countless ways long after my retirement.

(Cam Tait is a special projects advisor with Challenge Insurance)

 

 

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