By Dave Ricci
It’s called the 11 Day Power Play and its mission is simple-put cancer on ice once and for all.
From June 22-July 3, 2017 the HarborCenter in downtown Buffalo will play host to one of the most unique fundraisers WNY has ever seen as 40 men and women will attempt to play the World’s Longest Hockey Game. All in the name of raising money for Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Husband and wife, Mike and Amy Lesakowski of the Town of Tonawanda, are central figures in the brain trust behind the project that will see two teams battle it out for 250 straight hours.
“The 11 Day Power Play is a 250 hour-plus, continuous hockey game for 11 days,” said Mike Lesakowski.
“Two teams of 20 guys are going to eat, sleep, breathe and play hockey at the HarborCenter the entire time.”
A very personal topic for the Lesakowski family, Amy is a seven-year survivor of breast cancer who now works at Roswell Park counseling new patients and walking them through the first leg of their battle. Amy Lesakowski said while she is among the lucky ones to have won her battle, the fight continues for others and that is why the 11 Day Power Play is so important.
In the works for several years, Mike Lesakowski said he had two driving forces that inspired him to make the talk of this game a reality. Amy-who won her battle. And his mom, Evelyn Lesakowski, who lost her battle against cancer this past May.
“The inspiration behind this was first Amy fighting cancer and beating it back in 2009. That’s when the idea was born,” said Mike Lesakowski.
“We couldn’t bring it to fruition then. Unfortunately, with my mom getting sick a few years ago the idea was reinvigorated and upon her passing this year we decided we’re doing this wholeheartedly in her honor. It’s very personal. Hockey is the forum we chose to make this happen, but it’s really about trying to continue the amazing work that the people at Roswell are doing in terms of cancer research.”
People slated to play include former Buffalo Sabre Mike Peca, as well as several other friends of the Lesakowski’s from the WNY hockey community.
The stories of what have drawn players to this game are all personal and special in their own ways, but they all have the common thread of wanting to play because cancer has touched their lives. Someone near to them either won, or lost, their battle. So they are playing to honor that loved one.
Hardly your typical morning skate with pals, the 11 Day Power Play is just that-11 days of hockey. Of playing, sleeping and literally living at the HarborCenter for the duration of the event. Participants are using vacation time and personal days from work and sacrificing time with family all in the name of the 11 Day Power Play’s effort to raise money in the war against cancer.
“Truly this is about finding a cure for cancer,” said Amy Lesakowski. “Our goal is to raise $1 million for cancer research for Roswell Park, right here in our own backyard and we truly believe that Buffalo will step up and help us support the 40 men (and women) that will be playing.”
Information on how to sign up to play, volunteer or donate money can be found on the 11 Day Power Play Facebook page 11 Day Power Play on FB.
The Thin Man Brewery, located at 492 Elmwood in Buffalo, will be hosting an official launch party on Friday, Oct.14 from 5:30-7:30.