Hockey marathon hits Centre Ice next week

The sixth edition of the local fundraiser will feature an appearance from Canadian hockey legend Paul Henderson via Skype.

Geoff Lee has a simple analysis as to why the Paul Henderson Hockey Marathon of Hope has become such a popular fundraising event in Abbotsford in recent years.

“It’s hockey,” he said.

And in Canada, no further explanation is needed, particularly when Henderson – whose game-winning goal in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union is the stuff of national legend – is involved.

The hockey marathon brings together 64 players, each of whom have committed to raising at least $1,000 for a pair of local non-profit organizations – Doing Family Right, a Christian ministry to strengthen families, and the Imani Orphan Care Foundation, which runs two facilities in Kenya.

The players are divided into four teams and play 10 hours of hockey at Abbotsford’s Centre Ice rinks, and wrap things up with a banquet in the evening.

Henderson, who has been battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in recent years, won’t be attending this year’s event in person due to his busy schedule. But he will make an appearance at the banquet via Skype to speak to the crowd.

Many NHL players have supported the event over the years, including the likes of Mark Osborne, Peter Zezel and Richard Brodeur. This year, former NHL goalie Steve Passmore, who suited up for the Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings, will be between the pipes.

“Last year we raised $67,000, and over the last five years, this event has raised over a quarter of a million,” said Lee, who operates the Imani foundation with wife Kim.

“The dreams and goals are, we’re shooting for $80,000 this year, and it’s very realistic to do that.”

The hockey marathon still has room for five more participants. To register or for more information, visit hockeymarathonofhope.com.