For Kristi King, organizing the Stick it to Cancer tournament, held at the National Sports Center in Blaine, April 7-9, was a months-long process, and one that’s been well-worth the wait.
“I was hired here in October, and it’s been something I’ve been working on since the day I got hired,” King said, adding that in her role as ice sports programmer, she and her colleagues added several new wrinkles to this year’s competition.
In addition to a full docket of festivities surrounding the newly added Opening Ceremonies, honorary puck-drops were added to each game, and a celebrity game that was played on Saturday enabled fans of all ages to see their female hockey heroes in action.
“Hannah Brandt was playing in the World Championship and flew in (Saturday) morning,” King said. “It’s cool to see people set aside other things to make it here.”
The event began in 1999 as a fundraiser for Jody Anderson, started by her family and friends as a means of raising money for her treatment.
Anderson was in attendance for the first Stick it to Cancer event, and passed away in April of 2000.
King says that experiencing the event from both a player’s perspective and from the administrative side has helped her appreciate the event from all angles.
“I played in the tournament growing up,” King explained. “It amazed me as a kid to see all these people come together for a greater cause and set their hockey pride aside to ultimately play for something other than ourselves or a trophy.”
The event has raised approximately $763,000, not including the 2017 totals. The event's goal is to raise $1 million by 2018.
The bulk of the donations have gone to the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota for research.
King’s own contact with breast cancer includes a family member and others connected through friends and hockey.
“One out of every eight women get breast cancer,” King said. “You could be in a room of 30 of your teammates, and three of you are possibly going to get breast cancer.”
With events like Stick it to Cancer, that number is fortunately on its way to being reduced.
Check out the National Sports Center's website for full 2017 tournament results.