The Game is On

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 Bryan Trottier, Hockey Hall of Famer with Glen Finstad City of Leduc Alderman, planners of the Pro-Am Face-Off for Alzheimer's.



City of Leduc, AB – They decided Calgary and Edmonton would not be on the ‘circuit’ this year, but this exclusion didn’t mean that this worthwhile event was going to disappear quietly! So the game is on…

What is referred to here is the PRO-AM FACE-OFF FOR ALZHEIMER’S, a Pro-Am hockey tournament that for the past several years has included these two cities. The Tournament’s founder, an Ontario company named Baycrest, a large long-term care facility also focused on Alzheimer’s research, chose not to include Alberta this year in their fundraising events. A success from the onset, this spirited concept of hockey games involving community and corporate teams finally included these two Alberta cities four years ago. In the past three years, the Edmonton and Calgary pro-am games have raised over $3.2 Million for this great cause. The concept is for these teams of amateur hockey players to raise a minimum of $25,000 each: then the top fundraising teams get first pick at their favorite among a group of NHL Alumni. On Day One of the tournament, an All-Star game will see the top 15 fundraising individuals play with 15 NHL alumni, while Day 2 will see another All-Star game where the two fundraising teams will face each other.

Two Alberta businessmen, passionate about the cause and aware that this huge success is still in the grass roots stage, decided to continue this 9 year-old tradition: Frank King, former Chair and CEO of the 1988 Calgary Winters Olympics and Greg Christensen, CEO of Christensen Developments in Edmonton, continued their association in deciding that their respective cities should host their own Pro-Am tournaments. With the support of their cities’ leaders and supporters of the cause, it is happening as they dreamed it would. 

Glen Finstad, City of Leduc alderman and a dedicated hockey fan, has spearheaded this project on the local level: he planned the get-together on Thursday November the 29 at the Denham Inn after initially showing an interest in doing this three years ago, invited key players and future corporate sponsors and finally, he introduced the special guests as key players in this great endeavor. LEDCOR was the official lunch sponsor, and its Business Development manager, Colin Tooth, was happy to share his enthusiasm for the project, stating that the LEDCOR hockey team would no doubt participate. 

Mayor Greg Krishke is candidly enthusiastic towards the cause –and the tournament, sharing that in the past three years of Leduc hosting this event, great crowds, a fantastic venue and scores of energetic volunteers have contributed to its success and that he sincerely hopes to put together a City team this time around: with four aldermen and several City managers playing hockey, it sounds like the start of a strong hockey team is already in place! Mayor Krishke reminded us that a City team’s financial contribution would be all about individual players being required to raise funds, so residents will be able to contribute!

Alzheimer’s is a grave concern in today’s society, with new statistics telling us that the number of Canadians with cognitive impairment, including dementia, is rising sharply and that Canada’s health-care system is ill-equipped to deal with the staggering costs that are just one of the grave concerns and pressures on the family caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. It is a widely-accepted fact that “Canada needs a dementia plan – now!” as stated on the website. The importance of physical activity, proper nutrition and mental exercise is stressed, to keep the brain active and combat the onset of Alzheimer’s, the most common of all dementia diseases.

Greg Christensen is the Edmonton businessman who brought this Pro-Am tournament to Edmonton four years ago, and then to Leduc in its second year in the region: he articulately shared his passionate and clear vision of the April 26 -2013 hockey tournament: he described that as sharing the LRC ( Leduc Recreation Centre) with the Leduc Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Trade-Show, the PRO-AM FACE-OFF FOR ALZHEIMER’S will also share its crowds of visitors, offering families excellent hockey and autograph opportunities with favorite NHL and Hockey Hall of Fame players.

Will Anderson, Leduc Scotia Bank manager, vowed to be a strong supporter, as the bank has been a national sponsor since the early days of the tournament, and the local Scotia Bank has a hockey team! Mr. Anderson expressed great enthusiasm to see this project succeed, and exceed its past results. 

Bryan Trottier, the proud recipient of seven Stanley Cup rings, a former member of the NY Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins and a Hockey Wall of Famer is another champion of this cause. After being introduced, he described the background of this Pro-Am Tournament and mentioned how many retired NHLers in their 30s, 40s and older have a vested interest in supporting Alzheimer’s and dementia research. His touching speech was followed by a light-hearted question & answer period where guests were thrilled to ask questions about his many years as a NHL star, to which he responded with humorous candor.

Sylvie Keane was a touching speaker on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society for Alberta and the Northwest Territories, stating that “we exist to support those currently in the Alzheimer’s journey and also to help in finding a cure for this disease”. This disease is more than memory loss: it is a loss of communication, mobility and bodily functions. There are over 500,000 Canadians diagnosed with this disease, and this number came from a 2008 survey! The shocking stat is that this disease also affects people under 60. For unknown reasons, Alberta has the highest rate of Early Onset Disease in Canada. Our rate is 17%, while the Canadian average is 5%, and hopefully we will someday understand why. 

There are 15 support groups in the Edmonton area, one of them in the City of Leduc. Sylvie Keen stated that her presence at this gathering was to remind all of us and the communities we represent that our help will be critical and welcomed, in any way that we choose: sponsorship, creating a team, and generally supporting this project to help to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. 

It already sounds like some great community champions are on board, and Alberta can look forward to some skilled and congenial NHL pros to join the cause and help create two excellent hockey weekends, April 12 in Calgary and April 26 in Leduc. As the largest fundraiser for the Alberta Alzheimer’s Society, it is imperative that community members and corporate leaders embrace the challenge and support the goal of funding continued Alzheimer’s and dementia research. Submissions of hockey teams can be addressed to Glen Finstad at the City of Leduc’s Council Office. 

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