11 Day Power Play: Love of game makes a powerful difference

“Everybody in there has gone through some type of battle”

Tim Wenger
July 06, 2019 - 10:05 am

Sean McCrone - WBEN Photo/Tim Wenger

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When the elevator doors open and you walk into the rinks at Harborcenter, you can just feel it.  The looks on the people gathered to watch, the passion of the volunteers staffing the rinks and the determination of the players on the ice all speak loudly.

The 11 Day Power Play is on.

It is the third annual event that raises an impressive amount of money for the battle against cancer and is the creative genius of Mike and Amy Lesakowski   After the first year when the original squad of forty gritty players, young and old, played a consecutive game for 11 days, this year and last has transformed into a community shift approach.  Team after team hit the ice and play a three hour game before handing it off to the next set of teams. 

And so it goes for 11 days.

As I wandered around the rink before the opening ceremonies and game, I came across a group of guys who were commiserating about the event and recalling their experiences of two years ago.  These were the core guys from the original forty and share a fraternal bond that only 11 days on the ice and in a hockey locker room will build.  Love of game and passion for a cause.

But one of these men has a different story.  He was set to play in the original 11 day event two years ago, trained with them in anticipation, then needed to make the ‘right call’.  He passed on the game for something more important.

“After finding my dad was terminal, I decided to step out and step away and spend more time with him”, Sean McCrone told me rink side. 

McCrone is a former player with Niagara University and is a senior sales manager with Ingram Micro and says just seeing the passion of the payers “sparked something to get really involved”.

And so he is fighting back.  McCrone is invited each year to rejoin that original group of forty that he would have been part of at the first event.  And he’ll skate during other games during the 11 Day event, doing his part of raising funds and awareness to battle the disease that claimed his father at too young an age.

McCrone’s dad was undergoing treatment at the time of the original 11 Day event and knew Sean would be skating for the cause.  “What a great opportunity it would be for me to do something in his honor”, recalls McCrone.  But before the event began, McCrone was told the blood cancer his father was battling was terminal and that would change the course of events.

After his dad ultimately lost his battle with cancer, Sean now approaches the 11 Day event with a passion and determination that he’s always felt for the game of hockey.  “It’s all about grabbing a group of people and trying to help individuals who are going through their own battles”, says McCrone.  “Everybody in there has gone through some type of battle.  A family member.  A friend.  And to be able to step on the ice and do something you know you get a ton of pride out of and do something that you know is making a difference is extremely impactful”.

As for his dad?  McCrone says, “He’s definitely watching.  He used to sit up at the top right hand side and give me a little whistle to ‘pick it up’".  And so he did during that ceremonial opening game.

Watching closely too is Roswell Park CEO Candace Johnson, PhD who was rink side for the opening ceremonies sporting her 11 Day Power Play t-shirt.  “This is such a

passionate event”, she told me, “it makes me go even harder to try to find a cure for this disease”.

The 11 Day Power Play has already raised a $1 million this year and it’s hoped it will raise $1.6 million by the end of the event.

You can help by following this link.

 

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