11 Day Power Play finishes 'over the top' raising $1.25 million

Amy Lesakowski: "The love in this rink over the last 11 days is amazing"

Tim Wenger
July 16, 2018 - 4:06 am

WBEN Photo - Tim Wenger

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Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - "It's just amazing", said an exhausted Amy Lesakowski just moments after walking off the ice following the closing ceremony for the 11 Day Power Play Community Shift event.  The long ordeal and massive fundraising undertaking, in its second year, went over the top of its fundraising goal and collected $1.25 million to support cancer research at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The final shift on the ice Sunday included many of the original 11 Day Power Play skaters from a year ago and many notables including former Sabres Michael Peca, Andrew Peters and the Buffalo Beauts.  As the game clocked ticked down, Sabres play by play announcer Dan Dunleavy called the action and ended the emotional event with a ten second countdown that was followed by resounding applause from the crowd and players shaking hands that all preceded an emotional closing ceremony.

Amy Lesakowski, a cancer survivor, said, "the love in this rink over the past 11 days is just amazing".  Lesakoswki expects the $1.25 million number to grow in the coming days as more money still comes in and she says it's all for cancer research and wellness programs and it all stays local.

The original 11 Day Power Play event involved one group of men who shared the ice over the course of the entire 11 day event.  This year the event was opened up to what was termed a "community shift" program in which teams played four hour shifts and involved many more ages, genders and skill levels on the ice.  As for 2019?  Lesakowski says, "I think we're going to keep the same format and might tweak it a little bit". 

Mike Lesakowski initiated the 11 Day Power Play after Amy's bout with cancer and losing his mother to the disease.  "People are passionate about helping out others around here and people are passionate about hockey, so putting those two together has been a perfect recipe", says Lesakowski.

"It just blows me away", said Roswell Park CEO Dr. Candace Johnson who stood on the ice following the event alongside goaltender Marty Biron.  Biron, who went 'bald for bucks' this year as a way to support the fight against cancer, said in retirement he has more time to appreciate a community and find a way to help.

"Hockey players are different", noted Dr. Johnson.  "They have an energy about them....it's a movement", Johnson concluded.

Planning is already underway for next year as hundreds of hockey players pack up their gear and rest up knowing they played for a meaningful cause.

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