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Tuesday January 13, 2009 Edition
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Facing Off Against Breast Cancer

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Tuesday January 13, 2009

By Liza Sacheli Lloyd

    This January, two women’s hockey teams in Middlebury are facing off in an epic battle.  But their opponent doesn’t fight fair.

    It’s the “Face Off Against Breast Cancer,” a fundraiser hockey tournament now in its 10th year, and it’s a true community event that brings women and families from all over Vermont together for an important cause.

    The Middlebury Otters and the Middlebury Mystix are two women’s community ice hockey teams. Their team rosters include women from all walks of life: converted hockey moms, lawyers, teachers, nurses, accountants, students, musicians, a doctor, and even the local driver’s ed teacher.  Why do all these different women get together for a hockey tournament?  For the love of the game—and for the love of so many who are touched by breast cancer.

    Ten years ago, the tournament was established when Liz Cronin, a member of the Otters, was diagnosed with breast cancer.  During her treatment, she kept playing, fighting against this powerful disease with the support of her friends and teammates.  Now a ten-year survivor, Liz is a star center and an anchor of the Otters squad--a master stick-handler and goal scorer.

    Over the ten years since Liz’s diagnosis, the tournament has come a long way, too.  The Face Off Against Breast Cancer went from raising a few hundred dollars and some much-needed awareness in its early years, to a bigger and bigger event.  Now the tournament has expanded to a two-day format with both competitive and recreational divisions. Eight women’s hockey teams from all over Vermont will compete, with all-day hospitality in the nearby “warming hut,” prizes, a guest speaker, and great camaraderie. Both the Otters and Mystix are proud to include breast cancer survivors on their rosters.

    In honor of the tourney’s 10th anniversary, players and friends will enjoy a fun-filled benefit concert and after-party on Saturday night from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. at Two Brothers’ Lounge. There’ll be music, dancing, and a raffle of great prices like ski passes, dinners out, and even autographed Panther hockey sticks. The band? Local favorites “The Horse Traders,” whose bass player Rick Marshall is also a mean defenseman with the local men’s league “The Monday Knights,” and coincidentally, he’s also a ref.  On their event poster, the Horse Traders sport Hansen brothers’ style eyeglasses, an homage to the old school hockey flick Slapshot.

    If you want to understand how the local community gets behind this tournament, consider this: the band is donating their show. Local businesses pitch in with food, prizes, and donations. Two Brothers plans to donate 10% of all their sales that day and night.  Each player raises money by way of individual player sponsorships and donations from friends, family, co-workers, and teammates. This community support is proof that Middlebury is a true blue hockey town!

    Visiting teams in 2009 include the Burlington Ice Breakers, the Green Mountain Thunder, the Brattleboro Riverhawks, the Rutland Cutting Edge, the Waterbury Wicked, and the Manchester Rusty Blades.  A special “Friends and Family” division was introduced in 2008, to give husbands, partners, kids, and other supporters a chance to participate too.

    Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Cancer Patient Support Program’s (CPSP), a Vermont-based aid organization.  CPSP’s Emergency Fund provides short-term, emergency financial relief to local patients in need. This important program addresses the hidden impacts that cancer can have on families: it aids those who, because of cancer, have lost their jobs and may lose their car or home because they are in treatment; those who are too sick to work, or who have soaring medical expenses and limited co-pays; or those who have no insurance coverage at all.

    Last year the Face Off Against Breast Cancer raised over $25,000, and the Otters and Mystix hope to smash that record in 2009.  The need for support continues, however: the American Cancer Society estimates that over 180,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone.

    So stop by the newly-renovated Howard Brush Memorial Sports Center in Middlebury On January 24th and 25th. You’ll see some great competition, you’ll hear some survivor stories, and you’ll understand just what brings a community together to Face Off Against Breast Cancer.
Liza Sacheli Lloyd, aka Otter #9


  The Otters and Mystix welcome donations to the Face Off Against Breast Cancer in any amount.  Checks made out to Cancer Patient Support Program (CPSP) may be sent to the Face Off Against Breast Cancer, c/o P.O. Box 27., Middlebury, VT 05753.

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