Taking to the Ice to Fight Cancer
So, how do you get a Wisconsinite to leave their cozy, warm homes in late-January?
Hold a three-day outdoor hockey tournament for all ages, with winter carnival games, a bouncy house and a concession stand serving plenty of hot chocolate.
The Mad-City Pond Hockey Championship tournament will do just that the weekend of January 24-26, 2014.
The tournament will be held at the Vilas Park Lagoon, adjacent to Lake Wingra in Madison. More than 40 teams, split between age and skill levels, are anticipated to register and will compete on more than 12 side-by-side outdoor hockey rinks. Proceeds from this tournament will go to support the UW Carbone Cancer Center's pancreatic cancer research fund.
This year's Mad-City Pond Hockey Championships is the idea of organizer Ben Cowan. A former youth-hockey player for the Westmorland Saints/Madison Capitols team, the Oregon/McFarland High School sectional championship team in 2000, and currently employed with On Ice Promotions, a marketing/management company for youth hockey development, he is well suited to be the organizer of this unique special event.
This event is more than just about hockey and competition. Cowan's reason for holding the hockey tourney for pancreatic cancer research touches deep within his hockey roots.
"My old hockey coach, Gene Tempel, lost his wife Becky to pancreatic cancer recently and she was treated at UW Carbone," says Cowan.
Since he was 10 years old, Gene had been his hockey coach all the way through high school.
"Becky was basically our 'hockey mom' on all our road trips and took care of us wherever the team went."
He credits the Tempels for instilling him with a strong work ethic and a personal determination to overcome life's hurdles no matter how difficult those can be. For Cowan, it's all about giving back to honor someone who gave him so much.
"I felt like I should do something to honor Becky and the opportunities that came about playing hockey for Gene," Cowan reflects.
He hopes to see many former high school players, current players and friends from the hockey community slip on their old skates and come together for pancreatic cancer research.
"This is something I've been thinking about doing for a while," says Cowan. "I've always wanted to host an outdoor tournament like the one in Eagle River. They're just exciting to be involved in and fun to watch."