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By Matthew Freeman
The Bemidji High School hockey programs are hosting their “Hockey Fights Cancer” games for the second consecutive season this Saturday, Jan. 27, where the boys’ and girls’ teams will raise money for the Joe Lueken Cancer Center in Bemidji. There will be raffles, Chuck-a-Puck, jersey auctions, and other promotional items at the Bemidji Community Arena.
“We’re trying to bring awareness and raise funds for a pediatric unit over in the Joe Lueken Cancer Center here in Bemidji,” explained assistant boys’ hockey coach Matt Menne.
“I think it’s really good to have something like this happen here,” said assistant boys’ captain Austin Coe. “It brings a lot of awareness to the cause and helps raise money for the new center in Bemidji.”
And the kids seemed very excited to get on the ice to raise funds for this important issue.
“Super pumped. Hopefully we win for all the fans coming,” added Coe.
“I’m very excited. I’m ready to play, win this year,” said Payton Weidemann on the girls’ team. “Didn’t get to play last year, so that makes [me] a little more excited for this year.”
Some of the coaches expressed how great it was to see these kids not only want to compete, but to also bring awareness and raise funds for a great cause.
“These things are kind of becoming more normal in our communities, and I think having some of these young high school kids be able to participate in these types of events is great,” said Menne. “It shows that they are, you know, partaking in our communities. Again, trying to raise awareness and try to raise some funds to try to bring some more joy to young kids that are battling through cancer.”
To some of these players and coaches, this weekend’s a whole lot more than just another game of hockey.
“My sister went through some treatments a couple of years ago, so it means a lot to have this help,” said Bemidji girls’ hockey player Ellie Solheim.
“My mom actually had breast cancer. She beat it so, been thankful for that,” Weidemann said. “And I just want to go out there and play for her and, you know, show her that we can win for her, for everybody else who’s battling cancer.”
“Just four days ago, I lost a former hockey player that I coached to brain cancer,” said Menne. “Her name was Lissa Blum, and she was living in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. And it’s very sad. But at some point, you know, cancer will impact us all, the older we get.”
To raise funds for this event, there are a number of ways to do so.
“We’re going to be having an online auction to sell some of the boys’ and girls’ high school jerseys that they’re going to be wearing during these games that maybe you’ll be seeing in some of the pictures here,” explained Menne. “And any of the funds that we do raise will go directly towards, you know, building that little center for these kids.”
The girls will host St. Cloud at 2 p.m. and the boys will host Sartell at 4 p.m. at the BCA.
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