Thursday, June 14, 2012

2012 'classic' crossed borders, reached new heights

From Chad Eddy, founder of the Make CF History campaign

"And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Paulo Coelho wrote that in his best selling book (and one of my favorites), The Alchemist. It's the story of pursuing one's dreams.  My dream is to one day be a part of a generation that found the cure for Cystic Fibrosis, and to know that the Make CF History Charity Classic played an active role in finding the cure.

Sticking with the Alchemist for a moment, "alchemy" is defined as the process of transforming base metal matter into gold. The Make CF History Charity Classic is, I hope, our pursuit of alchemy - bringing together people, products, services, and financial resources for a period of time with one common purpose in mind: finding a cure for CF.

For the second year in a row, our vision for the Make CF History Charity Classic was brought to life thanks to the commitment and hard work of our countless supporters - our Organizing Committee, our sponsors, the players, the broader community, and of course our volunteers.

The Player's Perspective

We established at the on-set of this journey that our priority first and foremost would be from the player's perspective, and creating for them an experience that would be second-to-none. Our goal is to create an experience and an environment such that they would feel special, and taken care of.  And therefore, "success" for this event will always be defined by the player's, and by how many of them come back year after year.

This year, we added two teams, created two divisions and crowned two new Champions.  We had several returning players from last year, as well as several first-time players this year.  Below are some of the comments and feedback we've received from the players over the past few days from this year's event:
"One of the best tourney’s I have ever played in."
"This was one of the most well organized tournaments I've ever played in."
"[This tournament] is first class."
"You put on a first-class event."
"We are already planning on coming back next year."
We can't thank the players enough for their support and participation in this event, and we hope to see them back next year!

Fund-raising Perspective

Going in to this year's event, we set a goal to raise $15,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Central Ohio Chapter.

As of the time of this writing, the results of our fund raising efforts reflect that we have raised over $18,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - exceeding our goal of $15,000! Key contributors to exceeding our goal were: sponsorships, donations from the stick-and-puck sessions; monies from the silent auction, as well as the raffle; pledges raised from the kids' charity game (great job, kids!); and lastly, private donations made from the general public throughout the weekend, which were unanticipated.

Still yet to be realized are the proceeds from the sale of the photographs from the weekend. As we all know, hockey players love to see pictures of themselves in action, and there are plenty of them. Our outstanding photographer Bernie Beck and his team of volunteers worked tirelessly all weekend to capture all of the action, and have posted the photos on their website - They are donating 50% of all proceeds from the sale of these pictures to the CF Foundation, so we encourage all of the players and their friends and family to purchase their favorite pictures from the weekend, and help us continue to drive our overall contribution to the CF Foundation.

The rest of the story...

These are the stories from the weekend about a universe that continues to conspire to help us achieve our goal: a cure for CF.

The "donation" (again!)

You may recall last year the unexpected and on-the-spot donation from the Baron's own Tom Jaroscak which put us over our fundraising goal.  Well, this year it happened again!  On Saturday night I was appraoched by a fellow hockey player (who will remain nameless to protect the innocent) who wanted to know more about our fundraising goal and how he can make a donation.  As I shared our goal of $15,000 and explained that we will likely fall a bit short, he promptly expressed his desire to make a donation to help.  As I started to explain the process for making a donation, he humbly "asked" if a pledge of [something in the four-figure range] would be enough.  As I posted on my Twitter and Facebook page shortly thereafter: once again, the Make CF History Charity Classic has exposed me to people whose generosity leaves me humbled and speechless with gratitude.  Thank you (you know who you are) for being a part of the world which is conspiring to help us achieve our goal!!

The Man from Pittsburgh - Part II

On Sunday morning of last year's event, a man approached me and asked how he can make a donation. He shook my hand and thanked me for bringing together two wonderful things: Hockey and a good cause. He explained that he was from Pittsburgh, and that he was there to see his daughter's fiance play. On Friday of this year, that same man appeared (with his wife and daughter-in-law) in the lobby, and came right up to me and shook my hand - as if picking up right where we left off last year.  Mike Kurtz is his name, and he is the father of Garrett Kurtz who plays on the Dayton team - and I can't thank them enough for their support of what we do.  And I look forward to seeing them again each and every year!

The Family from Michigan - Part II

Last year I met a family from Michigan, whose son played in the tournament. I learned that they have a family member with CF, and they simply wanted to come down to support the event. I've since gotten to know their son, Jesse Predhomme, a bit - and on Saturday morning of this year I had the pleasure of seeing his parents again as they made the trip down from Michigan again to support their son and the event.  To add to this family affair, their cousin Justin played on the CH Robinson Detroit team, as did his twin brother who made the trip from Kentucky to be there this year.  I look forward to seeing the Predhomme's and Ronayne's each year, as our family's share the personal connection to CF and share in the fight to find a cure.

The Goalie from Canada

A few months ago the CF Foundation forwarded me an email from a guy who offered to play in our event.  Simply, the email from him read, "Hi, if you would like to have a goalie with CF play on an entry in your hockey tournament in June, I would be interested." We received several emails from individuals looking to be placed on teams, which we saved for consideration once we had all of the teams registered.  And, on the surface, this email seemed much the same as the others.  That was until the CF Foundation sent me an email the following day with a links to his story - and this is the story of Trevor Umlah from Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Not only did Trevor bless us with his presence this year, he played for two teams (including mine), playing in 8 games in 3 days.  He is truly an inspiration for all of us - both from a hockey perspective, as well as for life in general.  Trevor, you have a standing invite to join us each and every year, and we hope to see you here again!

The Family Affair

As with the inaugural event, the weekend was a family affair for me and others. My wife's cousin Kevin created the tournament logo (gratis), which of course gets it all started. My father-in-law Nick (A.K.A. "Old School") led the Monday Knights, who finished 2nd in the Intermediate division. My brother John came in again from Denver on his own dime and volunteered his time to referee the games. And My sister Sarah drove in from Chicago with her daughter Alison and husband R.V. to be at the event as well. Their youngest daughters Gabby (my God Daughter) and Madi were born with CF, and are the inspiration behind The Make CF History campaign, which I founded in 2006 with the goal of raising $1 million for CF research.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Predhomme's and Ronayne's, who are huge supporters of our event and are personally affected by this deadly disease.

The Final Word...

It goes without saying that one of the biggest benefits of an event like this is getting to meet new people, people who we might not otherwise have had a chance to meet. The weekend was full of powerful moments like the ones above, where seemingly random people came together for a common purpose. And friends and family who came together from near and far to show their support.

The fact that we exceeded our fund-raising goal (again!) is secondary to the fact that the event itself fosters new friendships, continues to drive awareness for CF, and brings together families and friends from far and near.  My sincerest gratitude goes out to the players, our sponsors, our volunteers and my family for making this event such a success!

I look forward to seeing everyone again next year!