The third annual Dirty Birds Charity Hockey Tournament raised a total of $94,167 for the Neurosurgery Kids Fund at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.
The “12 hours of hockey” tournament took place on Saturday, at Argyl Arena in Edmonton. Oilers TV Reporter and Host Tom Gazzola and edmontonoilers.com Head Writer Chris Wescott participated, playing on Team Brain. Oilers In-Game host and 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen was also on Team Brain.
"It truly is an honour to be a part of this tournament,” said Gazzola. “To see how much this group has raised for the NeuroKids Fund in just three years is spectacular."
Gazzola went first overall in the “media draft,” which took place at the silent auction on Friday night.
“This was my second year involved with the tournament and I already cannot wait for next year,” said Wescott. “Meeting the kids, the people involved and seeing the money raised for a great cause is really special.”
Other media personalities involved in the tournament and fund raising efforts were CBC’s Min Dhariwal and TSN 1260’s Dustin Nielson.
Over its three years of existence, the event has raised $263,000.
|Tom Gazzola passes the puck in last year's tournament. Photo provided.|
Oilers TV Reporter and Host Tom Gazzola and edmontonoilers.com Head Writer Chris Wescott are among a handful of local media personalities participating in the third annual Dirty Birds Charity Hockey Tournament this weekend.
The tournament is a two-day event, including a silent auction this Friday. The tournament takes place on Saturday, helping raise awareness and funds for the Neurosurgery Kids Fund at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. In its first two years, the event raised over $200,000.
Both Gazzola and Wescott participated last year. This will be Gazzola’s third tournament. A member of the Oilers coaching staff, Video Coordinator Myles Fee, will also be playing in his first tournament.
In 2013, the goal was to raise $15,000. The tournament ended up raising $68,000, which was matched by CN Miracle for a total of around $140,000. Last year, the tournament raised $100,212, on its own, without being matched.
“The Dirty Bird Hockey Tournament means so much to my family and every family impacted by paediatric neurosurgery at the Stollery,” said Melissa Da Silva of the Neurosurgery Kids Fund. “This tournament is a true testament to how generous and compassionate people can be. A group of people who came together to create something extraordinary to help our children and families. We give our deepest heartfelt gratitude to everyone who organizes, donates and participates. The smiles at camp this year will be because of you!
|Chris Wescott skates to the bench in last year's tournament. Photo provided.
This event began when a local men’s hockey team decided to play for more than just fun, choosing to support a great cause.
“This tournament is more than hockey. It's about the friendship the Dirtybirds have created with the kids and families of the Neurosurgery Kids Fund,” said Chris Branco, captain of the Dirty Birds and one of the founding members of the event. Branco, and his wife Julie, created the charity tournament.
“Where this tournament is today is truly amazing. Never once did I think that in two years, over $200,000 would be donated,” Branco said. “The support from the community, family, friends and of course my wife Julie, who has put in countless hours, is what makes this a successful event.”
In addition to the Oilers staffers participating, Dustin Nielson (TSN 1260), Ryan Jespersen (630 CHED) and Min Dhariwal (CBC) will suit up for the cause.
Friday night’s silent auction will take place at Average Joes Sports Bar in Sherwood Park (390 Baseline Road), at 7 p.m. Auction items include a Wayne Gretzky stick, a Jordan Eberle stick and jersey, a Taylor Hall jersey and a Connor McDavid Erie Otters and World Junior Championship jersey, all signed.
Tickets are $20 at the door.
The tournament will take place on Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. at Argyl Arena (9933 63 Avenue Northwest, Edmonton).
This year, prior to the auction or tournament, over $67,000 has been raised.
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The second annual Dirty Birds Charity Hockey Tournament raised a total of $100,212.12 in support of the Neurosurgery Kids Fund this weekend.
“Once again the dirty birds came through in a big way,” Oilers TV Host Tom Gazzola said. “It’s unbelievable to see the group managed to raise over $100,000. And to be a part of something special like this that benefits children being treated at the Stollery is an honour.”
Gazzola and edmontonoilers.com’s head writer Chris Wescott participated in the tournament on Saturday along with local media personalities Dustin Nielson (TSN1260), Ryan Jespersen (Breakfast TV) and Min Dhariwal (CBC). The purpose of the event is to raise funds and awareness for the Neurosurgery Kids Fund at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.
“The Dirty Birds put together a first-class event and it shows with just how much money they were able to raise,” Wescott said. “It was an amazing weekend to come together with a group of great people in support of a worthy cause and to meet some of those kids was very special.”
Chris Branco, a member of the Dirty Birds men’s league team and a lead organizer of the tournament was filled with emotions following the event.
“To go from a goal of $15,000 in our first year and raising $68,000, to breaking $100,000 in our second year is truly a dream come true,” Branco said. “It is a small four-team tournament with many big hearts. This moment makes it worth the battle of three games in four hours and four games in a day. These kids battle their entire life and if you asked me to do it all over again I would say, “When is puck drop?”
The two day event includes a silent auction and hockey tournament to raise awareness and funds for the Neurosurgery Kids Fund at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. In the first year of existence, this tournament helped raise $68,000 which was then matched by CN Miracle for a total of around $140,000. The goal was $15,000.
“What started as an idea has grown into an amazing life experience,” said Chris Branco, one of the founders of the event. “Never did I think that my love for hockey would introduce me to an inspiring group of kids from the The Neurosurgery Kids Fund, who I now call my friends.”
Oilers TV’s Tom Gazzola and edmontonoilers.com’s Chris Wescott will be playing in the tournament along with local media celebrities Dustin Nielson from TSN 1260, Ryan Jespersen from Breakfast TV and Min Dhariwal from CBC.
“We did this last year and it was fantastic,” Gazzola said. “Chris and his group did such an outstanding job organizing this that myself and the other media guys were quick to jump onboard again this year.”
The silent auction will take place on Friday at Average Joes Sports Bar in Sherwood Park (390 Baseline Road) at 7 p.m. The ’12 hours of hockey’ tournament will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday at Argyll Arena (9933 63 Ave NW).
“I want to thank every player, volunteer and donor for your generosity,” Branco said. “Because of you, one step at a time, change will come. To the parents and family members of The Neurosurgery Kids Fund who have allowed me and my teammates into your families, we can't thank you enough. Our goal last year was to raise some money and bring awareness to a group of everyday people trying to make the lives of those affected by brain or spinal surgeries just a little bit easier. We succeeded… Thank you.”
Over $57,000 has already been raised for this year’s event, prior to the silent auction.
To buy a ticket to attend, contact Chris Branco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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