Rally in lavender

With sticks wrapped in lavender ribbon, Hockey Regina players lead the charge to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society through Hockey Fights Cancer

Certain colors can have special meanings and unite communities. For example, when Canadians think of red, we think of the pride in representing the Maple Leaf.

In Regina, Saskatchewan, lavender is a hot topic. That’s because Hockey Regina is running its Lavender Days campaign in association with the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Cancer touches so many people, and it’s important to me that the players remember there are things more important than them,” said Joanne Eberle, Media and Events Manager at Hockey Regina. “The kids really get hold of it. ”

Now in its third year, approximately 170 Regina teams are participating in the fundraising campaign to support Hockey Fights Cancer in November and December. Lavender tape is put on sticks, decals are placed on helmets, and the two AAA teams in town wear lavender jerseys which are then auctioned off for the campaign. From Timbits U7 to U18, players on each team decide how they want to fundraise and give back to their community.

“They were making their coach’s pie, they were making jars of candy, they were doing all kinds of stuff,” Eberle says. “We have teams that will shovel snow, they will donate their allowance, or they will do a read or walk marathon or exercise somehow. We really left this open to all teams.

Eight-year-old Aliya Hartney had her own creative idea to help raise funds for Lavender Days.

“I made a video and talked about cancer and why we help people because you want to help people not to lose their loved ones to cancer,” she says.

This feeling touches close to Hartney’s home as his grandmother died of brain cancer when his mother was only four years old. Her video helped raise $ 1,505 for Lavender Days.

“I like helping people,” she says. “The more money we collect, the closer we get to finding a cure for cancer. ”

The campaign takes on deeper meaning when members of the hockey community have a personal connection to cancer. Following the conclusion of a previous Lavender Days campaign, a player was diagnosed with cancer. Their team responded by bringing back lavender ribbon for their sticks to show their support.

“It’s something that isn’t just left with them for the two months we do it,” Eberle says. “It’s something they wear throughout the season.”

For the special AAA Lavender Games, each local team chose a person associated with the team with a history of cancer for a puck presentation ceremony. The Regina Pat Canadiens chose a 12-year-old hockey player who was battling cancer. The Regina Rebels chose their coach’s two-year-old nephew, who also battles cancer.

“If there was a dry eye in this house, I’d be surprised,” Eberle says. “It was such a big impact, seeing this little guy come out and drop the puck and know why he was there. ”

Daren Haygarth has been a hockey coach for almost 20 years. The support given to Lavender Days in his community had a profound effect on him because of his family’s connection to cancer.

“My sister-in-law had nine surgeries related to a diagnosis of breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy,” he says. “When my son taps his sticks and writes his name on them, all of these things really touch me. ”

Last May, Haygarth began his own personal cancer journey. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent successful surgery in July 2020. Haygarth initially kept his diagnosis private, but over time began to tell his friends in the hockey community.

“Of course my family has been very supportive of me, but you are starting to realize how much the hockey world supports,” he says. “The support was just overwhelming. ”

Haygarth is cancer free, but the support he received from his community after his experience has bolstered the number of positives that came from a fundraising campaign like Lavender Days.

“There is no difficult time when other people will not be there to help you through this time. I think that’s what I really appreciate about Lavender Days and the fundraising efforts that go with it. It’s just awakening that kind of awareness that things are bigger than us. ”

His U13 AA team, the Regina Royals, are holding 50/50 draws this month in support of Lavender Days.

“I was not surprised [when] one of our parents won the 50/50 and they just gave it all back, ”he says. “Our goal is to raise over $ 1,000 this month, and we’re probably going way beyond that goal.”

Although Hockey Regina was unable to raise as much money last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has managed to raise over $ 26,000 in the past two years. Earlier this month, Hockey Regina’s young players received a Philanthropic Award for Outstanding Young Philanthropist for their efforts with Lavender Days.

“It’s really exciting for them,” says Eberle. “It’s a youth award, so it has nothing to do with the adults… it’s about the players and what they’ve done as a whole.

“It’s a great way to show kids that your little efforts can turn into something big. ”

The goal this year is to raise over $ 20,000 for Hockey Fights Cancer. Haygarth thanks Eberle for leading the creation of positive social interactions between teams while raising funds for a good cause.

“You need someone within the organization to lead these things and create this culture change,” he says. “I think Joanne was a great catalyst here in Regina to think a little differently about hockey and what it means to be a hockey player.”

For Eberle, the fact that the whole community is mobilizing around a united cause while being adorned with lavender warms her heart.

“Being able to do this as a minor hockey association as a whole is really exciting,” she says. “It unites everyone. Hockey is competitive, but they
[put] that aside and turn into a great team. I love that.

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