Loading...

STRIDING FOR A CURE

By Danielle Catalano
 
Six years ago while playing for the Cleveland Barons, Matt Carkner decided it was time to grow out his auburn hair. The six-foot-four defenseman was steadfast in this decision, shunning all shearing tools and barbershops along Lake Erie’s coastline while his crimped mane redefined the laws of gravity. Two years later, looking like a very tall cross between Carrot Top and Mike Commodore, Carkner amended his ban against haircuts.
 
“I was thinking, ‘Man, I gotta cut my hair’,” the Winchester, Ontario-native says with his arms outstretched to their near-maximum wingspan above his head. “So I decided, ‘You know, I might as well do it for a cause.’”
 
Thus began Carkner’s venture into fundraising for cancer victims and survivors. The defenseman devised a fundraiser where fans could purchase tickets to enter a drawing for a chance to shave his head on center ice at the end of the season, with all proceeds donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Northern Ohio. The event was a modest success, Carkner says, which only became motivation to improve the fundraiser the following season.
 
Little did he know just how personal that motivation would become less than 24 months later, when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
 
Now playing for the Binghamton Senators with a more reserved hairstyle, Carkner has tweaked the fundraiser and partnered with teammate Denis Hamel to raise money for the southern New York chapter of the American Cancer Society through their “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” raffle. The raffle generated $10,000 for the local chapter last season, and this year, the duo hopes to raise just as much money by April 4, when the club hosts its Fourth Annual Face Off Against Cancer night at the Broome Country Veterans Memorial Arena.
 
PRIVATE SIDE TO FUNDRAISING
Between Cleveland and Binghamton, Carkner played the 2006-07 hockey season in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., for the Penguins, and it was during this time that his mother was diagnosed with cancer. “She had a big battle then, and she’s still battling it now,” he says.
 
With this special incentive spurring his creativity, the fundraiser transformed into a club-wide promotion that involved not only fans buying chances to shave the defenseman’s hair (which was grown out again in a milder fashion), but stick sales, a jersey auction and drawings for sponsored prizes. When the festivities ended, more than $8,000 was donated to charity.
 
Upon arriving in Binghamton last season, Carkner discussed his nonprofit work with the Senators staff and team captain Denis Hamel, whom has two cousins also fighting breast cancer.
 
“…It’s in my family a lot, so it’s really in my heart,” Hamel says. “I want to do something for (my cousins), to help them become survivors and raise money to find a cure. And I’m sure it’s just not in my family. It’s on everybody’s mind. Everybody knows at least somebody who has cancer. If it’s not in your family, it’s a friend’s family, or maybe someone in your city. When Matt came up with the idea, I just jumped right in.”
 
A short while later, with assistance from the organization, the local ACS chapter, season-ticket holders, corporate sponsors and local businesses, the cancer fundraiser morphed into the “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” raffle.
 
THE DRIVE FOR SUCCESS
The raffle drive entails selling 500 tickets at $50 a piece for a chance to win one of 10 prizes. Tickets will be drawn following the team’s second-to-last home game, and fans will have an opportunity to bid on player-worn, breast-cancer-awareness-themed jerseys. “Denis came up with the idea of selling the raffle tickets,” Carkner says, “so that way it guarantees us money to give to the American Cancer Society and gives fans good odds of winning a prize.”
 
This year, winnings include $15,000 worth of cash prizes, a 40-inch flat screen television, a laptop computer, tickets to a 2009-10 Ottawa Senators game as well as a B-Sens Skybox Night next season, a year membership to a local gym, baskets filled with sports memorabilia and dinner with both players. The teammates credit the volunteers and organization’s staff for their resources in getting gifts donated to the Making Strides campaign.
 
“People really care about cancer and want to help us raise money,” Hamel notes of these efforts. “The more money we raise, the more chances we have to find a cure. The more people we have around us, the more they want to help us. ...[W]e’re just thankful for their support.”
 
Since some of the money raised through tickets sales will supplement the cash prizes, a concern of the fundraiser’s success is the economy’s impact on the community. “I know it’s a lot of money to ask, but the $50 can save a life sometimes,” Hamel says.
 
To allay concerns and maximize sales, the local ACS chapter is promoting the raffle in its literature and volunteers have been “doing the footwork,” Carkner says, by selling tickets at the arena during the B-Sens’ home games. The teammates are also walking the beat during their downtime, promoting the raffle through the media, making special event appearances and talking to just about anyone in the Southern Tier about Making Strides.
 
“For a great cause like this, you always find time,” Hamel says. “I know sometimes with our schedule it gets busy—we have three games in four nights; this week we have four games in five nights—but we still got Tuesday and Thursday open, and with practice in the morning, we have time in the afternoon. So, we try to do what we can.”
 
And so are area businesses, which have offered their facilities to attract a wider audience to the cause. In some instances, the effort is to boost ticket sales. The Johnson City plant of electronics manufacturer BAE Systems not only donated the 40-inch television being raffled, but the company set up a booth in its cafeteria recently for the players to sell tickets. (Fifty-three were sold in two hours.) In other instances, facilities are hosting smaller community events that will benefit the Making Strides campaign, such as Bowling with the B-Sens next month at Laurel Bowl.
 
“Thankfully, everyone we’ve talked to has been supportive of us,” Hamel says. “At the gym, they put up a poster to try to sell tickets for us. They didn’t have to do that—they’re already sponsoring a prize in the raffle...We have a lot of support here, and it’s nice to see that in a community.”
 
With kindred spirits like these, the teammates foresee Making Strides Against Breast Cancer making a significant impact on the lives of southern New Yorkers afflicted with cancer for quite some time.
 
“We basically have the foundation built on this,” Carkner says. “Hopefully, fans will keep supporting it for years to come.”

Search Archive »

Browse by Year »

2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
0

Browse by Month »

October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
April 2008
January 2008

VS Binghamton Senators St. John's IceCaps
B-Sens vs. IceCaps
@ 6:00PM Tuesday, Oct 21
Mile One Centre - St. John's, NL
VS Binghamton Senators Syracuse Crunch
B-Sens vs. Crunch
@ 7PM Saturday, Oct 18
War Memorial Arena - Syracuse, NY T0-0
<
St. John's IceCaps
St. John's IceCaps
@ October 22, 2014
Mile One Centre - St. John's, NL
Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Lehigh Valley Phantoms
@ October 25, 2014
the ARENA - Binghamton
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
@ October 26, 2014
Mohegan Sun Arena
>
RSS Feed
Twitter
Facebook
YouTube
Instagram
> < October 2014
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10
12 13 14 15 16
19 20 6:00PM 6:00PM 23 24 7:05PM
4:05PM 27 28 7:05PM 30 7:00PM  
  Home   Away
 
BROOME COUNTY ARENA - PARKING and DIRECTIONS