Iceman Cometh for LGH’s TeamWalk for CancerCare
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By Robert Mills
LOWELL -- Michael Kiernan, of Lowell, has been taking part in the Lowell General Hospital TeamWalk for CancerCare for about 16 years now -- ever since he was still a kid. But six years ago he decided to try something new to raise money for the event.
Kiernan, 28, had played in a local men’s hockey league where he had a lot of fun and made some friends, and thought he would try organizing a charity hockey game to help raise funds for the TeamWalk.
“I said, ‘Hey, why don’t I do something fun that people will be involved in that’s different than a normal function-hall party,’” Kiernan said. “I said, ‘I’ll give this a try and see if it works.’”
The TeamWalk Winter Classic is now going on its sixth year.
“Every year the players say they’re looking forward to the next year, so it just snowballed from day one,” Kiernan said.
The first game included about a half dozen players per team facing off on the ice at Tyngsboro’s Skate 3 Ice Arena. The event raised about $1,000 for the TeamWalk.
But, crucially, most of those who played said they had fun and wanted to play again the next year. And so they did.
Kiernan works in materials management at Lowell General Hospital and as an EMT for Trinity EMS. He lost both his grandmothers to cancer, as well as some childhood friends.
“It definitely hits home,” Kiernan said.
This year’s game, which will be held on Jan. 1, from 2 to 4 p.m., will feature much bigger teams playing three, full 20-minute periods with 10 minute intermissions, and a penalty shootout in the end -- even if the final score isn’t tied.
“It’s just so everyone gets a one-on one-shot with the goalie,” Kiernan said. “It’s just for the fun of it.”
In the last two years the event has grown considerably, as has its haul for TeamWalk. Kiernan said the event now raises $3,000 to $4,000 per year.
Kiernan starts organizing each year’s game around August, working to get jerseys made for players, to setup ice time, and bring all the other details together.
He said Skate 3 Manager Donna Conley always provides ice time for free, which is a big savings for Kiernan and a big contribution to the cause. Kiernan said his girlfriend Cassie Desruisseaux is always a big help as well, as is his family.
“It’s a huge benefit to me to have them in my corner,” Kiernan said.
The event is free for spectators, and those who come to watch the game can still take part in a 50/50 raffle and raffles for prizes like dinners for two, gift certificates for tattoos and tickets to UMass Lowell hockey and basketball games.
Kiernan said the event has gotten easier to organize over the years as players usually return each year, and often recruit more friends to join.
Players can sign up by paying a $35 registration fee, which gets them a spot on the ice and a jersey as the money goes to the TeamWalk. Anyone interested in playing can call Kiernan at 978-277-8113.
Follow Robert Mills on Twitter @Robert_Mills