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The individual stories at the Stick It to Cancer hockey tournament will stick with you

04/11/2018, 2:15pm CDT
By Barclay Kruse, Chief Communications Officer

Hockey is a team sport, but at the Stick It to Cancer tournament this weekend, the individual stories overshadow the team results. This is the one tournament each year at the Schwan Super Rink when everyone is playing for a higher cause – the fight against breast cancer.

Several years ago, tournament organizers started naming the competition divisions after family and friends of players who had passed away from cancer, or successfully battled the disease. Honorees are nominated by participants in the tournament.

The Olson Fish Company Elks team honored Lori Dorff in the Stick It to Cancer Opening Ceremony in 2017.

These individual stories make playing in the Stick It to Cancer tournament a very personal experience. There is courage and inspiration in each story. In many, humor as well. We wanted to share them with you, in the words of the nominators.

College Division: Lori Dorff

Lori was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of 2003.  Our daughters were 2, 4 and 6 at the time.  She battled and fought like a champion for 13 years before losing her battle in August 2016.  Two of the girls played hockey and the other was a figure skater.  She rarely missed a game through all of her chemo and surgeries.  She was a warrior, and the kind of mother that all these girls and women would be proud to call mom.  We miss her dearly but will play and raise money with pride and in her memory.

  • Nominated by Chris Dorff and family, and Olsen Fish Company Elks team

B2 Division: Jana Beets

Jana’s daughter, Jackie, plays on our team, the Northern Enforcers.  Jana was a school teacher and was loved by every single one of her students.  I never had the opportunity to meet Jana, but knowing how caring and sweet her daughter is, I’m going to guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.  Jana Beets lost her battle to cancer a little over a year ago. Losing a parent is an unbelievably hard thing to go through in life and I know this was hard on Jackie.  This past season, Jackie mustered up the courage to get back on the ice.  I know her mom is in the stands for each of our games, in spirit, cheering her daughter on.

  • Nominated by The Northern Enforcers

U14 Division: Tiffany Buonincontro

Tiffany is a strong mother of two hockey players and wife to her husband Rob. She is a breast cancer survivor, and we play to honor her. Her daughter is an ice Badger, #3, Briana Buonincontro.  Tiffany lives in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin with her family.

  • Nominated by the Chippewa Valley Ice Badgers

U16 Division: Angela Dahl

The Ice Badgers are playing to honor the fight of Angela Dahl.  She is a mom to #10, Ella Dahl.  We want the entire Dahl family to know that we support them.  Angela lives in Viroqua with her husband Troy and their kids. 

  • Nominated by the Chippewa Valley Ice Badgers

B3 Division: Patricia Klein

Three of the players are proud to call her mom or grandma and she’s even a great-grandma too! Back in the late 1980’s Patty lost a dear friend to breast cancer and decided to get scanned herself.  It was revealed she had cancer in one of her breasts and lymph nodes.  In a way, her friend’s death saved her life.  She had surgery and chemo. After a short time in remission, she received devastating news that cancer was now in her other breast.  More surgery followed with difficult times, but she fought back into remission again.  Turning 80 years young this summer, she is still cancer free.  Patty spent many hours in cold ice arenas, first watching her two sons play hockey, then eight grand-daughters, and now her two “over 40” daughters, who play hockey in WHAM.  We are so blessed to have this amazing lady in our lives and blessed to have her continued support in our love for hockey.

  • Nominated by Kristin Bakos

U12 Division: Adyson Hansen

Adyson is currently a skater on our Minnesota Nordiques U12 Blue team.  Ady fought and won a battle with childhood cancer.  When the team mentioned naming the division after her, Ady was honored.  “That’s very nice of you to acknowledge a teammate who literally stuck it to cancer in the Stick It to Cancer tournament.  She is never one to look for special treatment or recognition, but she’s at the age where she realizes that beating cancer is something everyone should celebrate.  We are blessed to have a normal little girl who cherishes her time on the ice playing hockey with great friends and coaches such as the Norqidues.  I have to admit there were long days over the last 2+ years of chemo every day that I couldn’t even imagine a normal life for her.  I prayed many nights on the 8th floor oncology ward at Children’s to be able to walk her down a wedding aisle someday and not a funeral aisle.  Trust me when I say there will be at least one dad and mom at the tournament who couldn’t be more thankful they have a daughter playing, who made it and truly stuck it to cancer. The Nordiques team will be very proud in honoring our teammate Ady Hansen as a cancer survivor. 

  • Nominated by the Minnesota Nordiques

C1 Division: Daniel Welty

Minnesota Wolfpack will be playing for and in honor of Daniel Welty. Dan was a father, husband, and most importantly, a hockey lover.  Never having skated a day in his life, he was ecstatic the day his daughter decided to quit dance and play hockey, like her brother.  From that moment, the rink was his second home.  But in November of 2003, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme and everything changed.  This aggressive form of brain cancer required surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and numerous trips to the Mayo Clinic.  None of this slowed Dan down.  He played cribbage in the waiting room with anyone who’d join him, continued to run the business he created, and made it a point to love everyone he knew.  Dan’s fight came to an end in March of 2005.  He lived life as it should, for all that it had.

  • Nominated by the Minnesota Wolfpack

C2 Division: Alice’s Angels

Alice Adelmeyer, my grandma, was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  She will begin her first round of chemo therapy on the first day of the tournament.  Pancreatic cancer is one of the most devastating cancers due to low ability for early detection, its fast progression and its low survival rate.  It’s also one of the few cancers for which the prognosis and the treatment has not improved over the past 30 years. I am very close with my grandma, and her cancer diagnosis has been really hard on me and my family.

  • Nominated by Ingrid Kallgren

 C3 Division: Lori Jo “Flash” Geshel

Lori Jo Geshel is the reason her team drove seven hours to play in her first ever Stick It to Cancer tournament.  Her mother died of breast cancer several years ago. Lori Jo was diagnosed in 2012 and had a double mastectomy.  One year later she was back playing hockey with the nickname “Flash” because she had no boobs to show.  Not only is she a breast cancer survivor, but in 2016, Lori Jo was in a boating accident that crushed all of her ribs, broke her scapula and punctured her lung. She is a survivor. She lives in Painesdale, Michigan with her husband Kevin and her children Wyatt, Jake and Aliina. She is especially playing for her Grandson, Watson. She has been in remission for six years and is playing again in the tournament, this year for the Battle Axe Cougars.

  • Nominated by Shelley Farrey

Jody Anderson's son, R.J. Anderson, spoke at the 2017 Stick It to Cancer Opening Ceremony.

The Stick It to Cancer Tournament also annually honors Jody Anderson, who is unique among the honorees. She was the original inspiration for the creation of the tournament, back in 1999.

Her friend Nan McDonald wrote the following tribute to Jody, that tells the story of how the tournament started.

“Jody passed away in 2000, a Saturday morning before Easter.  We started the Stick It to Cancer tournament the year before she died, in 1999, as a fundraiser for her battle. It was to support her family, as her treatment brought her down to Texas, a long way from family in Minnesota. 

“She attended (proudly bald and strong) and was so happy to see everyone playing and was surrounded by love and support.  Her mom told me she was as happy as she was at her own wedding.

“She fought hard to make it back for the second tournament but passed away about a week before.

“Jody's spirit is alive and living on at Stick It to Cancer. Everyone loved Jody and we continue to play to honor her fun spirit.”

Jody’s son, R.J. Anderson, played hockey for the University of Minnesota Gophers from 2005-2009. R.J. spoke at the Stick It to Cancer opening ceremony last year.

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Over the two decades the tournament has been held, a total of $809,723 has been donated to breast cancer research. For the most of those years, the beneficiary has been the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, and this year’s donation will go to the same organization.

Many of the teams compete to raise the most money, but you don’t have to be playing in the tournament to support the cause. There are several easy ways for the public to donate online.

Click here to make a donation to the tournament’s general fund-raising goal.

Click here to make a donation to a specific team’s fund-raising goal. You will see a menu of the teams playing in the tournament, with their fund-raising total to date.

Last year’s Stick It to Cancer fund raising champion was the Olson Fish Company Elks team, with a grand total of $17,556 raised. The total tournament donation to the Masonic Cancer Center in 2017 was $46,245.

Tag(s): NSC Blog