Shootout for Cancer brings schools together
Jane Donahue For the Sun January 18, 2013 6:46PM
JESSE E. EVANS/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Neuqua Valley's Brian Kenney, a cancer survivor, tends the goal during the skills challenge at the District 203/204 Shootout for Cancer at the Seven Bridges Ice Arena Friday night, February 7, 2003. The shootout was a hockey game involving Naperville Central, Naperville North, Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie players to raise money for cancer research. Kenney is a senior goalie and has earned all-state honors. 2/7/03
If you go
What: The 11th annual Shootout for Cancer, an exhibition hockey game featuring players from school districts 203 and 204.
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8
Where: Seven Bridges Ice Arena, 6690 S. Route 53 in Woodridge.
What else: The evening will include raffles, a luminaria ceremony and demonstration by members of the Tomahawks, a hockey team comprised of athletes with special needs. Former “American Idol” finalist Gina Glocksen will sing the National Anthem.
Cost: Admission is free; donations are accepted, with all proceeds benefiting the DuPage Chapter of the American Cancer Society. Donate online at www.main.acsevents.org/goto/shootoutforcancerdist203
Updated: February 24, 2013 6:08AM
It’s been more than a decade since Brian Kenney was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 16. And while the 2003 Neuqua Valley High School graduate doesn’t dwell on the disease he battled his junior year, the Shootout for Cancer serves as an important annual reminder.
“The idea for Shootout for Cancer came from my mom (Annette) and me, but she definitely deserves the majority of the praise,” said Kenney, 28. “After going through treatment and attending events such as Relay for Life and Make-A-Wish fundraisers, we figured we could help out by starting our own fundraiser centered on hockey. With four large high schools in town (at the time), we figured we could generate more than enough support to get an event off the ground. The idea was very well received by the other schools.”
And it’s still going strong today.
The 11th annual Shootout for Cancer will take place Feb. 8 at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge. The event features players from the Naperville and Indian Prairie school districts high school hockey teams in an exhibition game, along with an evening of raffles and a luminaria ceremony to honor cancer victims and survivors.
“My reaction is total pride and gratitude,” said his mom. “I am proud that others have picked up the cause and have made a commitment year after year. Somehow they find a way to keep making it better. It has taken a lot of hard work and sacrifice to maintain this level of commitment, and that comes not just from the parents but from the kids, coaches, referees and hockey arena operators.”
Since its inception, the event has generated more than $200,000 for the DuPage Chapter of the American Cancer Society. In turn, the hockey game helps bring opponents together while raising cancer awareness.
“(Events like this are important because) they help to open the eyes of a lot of people,” said the 28-year-old former goalie. “Going to these events makes you take notice of just how many people around you have been affected by cancer. You realize that nearly everyone you know has a grandparent, parent, sibling or other family member that has gone through a similar experience with the disease.”
Dwan Johnson, of the American Cancer Society, said the Shootout for Cancer has been a unique fundraiser for their organization.
“It brings together rival school districts to fight together for the same cause,” Johnson said. “How inspiring it has been to see the teamwork between the hockey clubs and also the commitment of the planning committee. It truly inspires me to see how passionate they are about keeping this event strong and growing for Brian and the many others that are affected by cancer.”
Each year, parent volunteers run the event, with each school taking turns as the Shootout for Cancer host. This year, Naperville North is at the helm.
“Nowadays, we are all touched by cancer,” said Becky Cizek, a North parent and this year’s chairperson. “I’m a very competitive hockey mom, and my goal is to make the American Cancer Society proud of our accomplishments. Along the way, we have the players, parents, families realize they have been so fortunate and are champions in making this event successful.”
Kenney went on to New York University, where he played hockey and graduated in 2007. The Big Apple was his home until May 2012 when he relocated to Chicago. He is cancer free.
“Over 11 years since I was first diagnosed, I often forget that I even had cancer,” Kenney said. “I go for annual checkups and blood work, but physically I feel great. I’ve been fortunate to not have suffered any long term effects or really been limited in any way since beating the disease.”