Fight ALS with hockey on June 24 in Hope, B.C.

Organizer Kevin Misumi is back with another Hockey Fights ALS in downtown Hope.

The Hockey Fights ALS charity ball hockey tournament is back in Memorial Park on June 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

After finding inspiration from a charity tournament benefiting social service provider Covenant House while in his first year at the University of British Columbia, Kevin Misumi realized he could make a difference in his hometown by fundraising for a cause close to his heart, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

By combining his love of hockey and an intrinsic philanthropic nature, Misumi created the Hockey Fights ALS Charity Tournament in honour of two close family friends who he lost to ALS. The disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s, affects nerve cells and the control of voluntary muscle movements.

Misumi explains, “Having lost two very influential friends to this disabling disease and having seen what goes into helping patients with ALS, I feel like it’s a field that needs more attention. I also know that both Janice Carrat and Ron Young were very close to the community and well-known within Hope so I knew hosting the fundraiser in our hometown would attract a lot of support.”

And that is exactly what this community has given to Misumi in the past four years. In 2014, the first year of the tournament, Hope raised over $4,600; since then, with the help of family, friends and the community, Hockey Fights ALS has raised over $13,000.

This year’s event has a fundraising goal of $6,000 and Misumi feels confident that with the 27 sponsors they will reach the goal and hopefully even surpass it.

“There has been a great response from both our continued sponsors and a lot of new businesses, who are excited about what we’re doing and supporting the cause,” he said. “It’s hard organizing the tournament away from home but Craig Traun has been our man on the ground and has been attracting a lot of different businesses.”

Hockey Fights ALS gets most of its donations on the day of the event from the sale of raffle tickets and concessions, as well as donations from attendees and passersby.

“This year we’ll be selling hot dogs, chips and drinks at the concession and then we’ll be raffling off prizes from our sponsors. We have so many prizes this year for our raffle, including Fraser River Rafting vouchers, BC Lions football tickets, and lots of gift cards from businesses around town,” he said. Raffle tickets can be bought for $2 for each ticket, $5 for three and $20 for a wingspan at the event.

However, one of the greatest portions of donation this year will come from the Hope Canyon Shell’s generous donating two cents from every litre of gas they sell from next Monday to next Friday to the Hockey Fights ALS event. The Canyon Shell, located on the corner of Highway 1 and Old Hope Princeton Way, have been gold sponsors of the event since 2014 and the Young family has cultivated a close relationship with Misumi, who worked at the gas station in his senior years of high school.

“I’m really excited for this year’s event,” Misumi commented, “we have seven teams this year, including four from Hope and players coming across the Fraser Valley just to be here. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of friends and community members this year because the tournament is really about more than just winning the trophy, it’s about coming together as a community to remember Ron and Janice and countless others and the families who have been affected by ALS. Maybe we’ll even have some sun to do that.”

Two things are clear about the Hockey Fights ALS tournament, its success is based on community support and it is an event founded and organized on pure righteousness, with the sole purpose of doing good. Later, Misumi assured us the tournament will happen at the tennis courts regardless of weather and that he’ll be there all day accepting donations and eating hot dogs.

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