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Massena winter athletes raise $2,300 to help fight cancer

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MASSENA - Massena Central winter athletes hope that money they raised this season will help take a bite out of cancer.

Members of the school’s girls’ varsity hockey team, girls’ and boys’ JV and varsity basketball teams and wrestling team had set a goal of $1,500 to donate to the Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center Foundation to support the efforts of the Winter Cancer Center.

But, when the fundraising was over, the teams had easily surpassed their goal, collecting $2,300.

“We wrecked that pretty fast,” Athletic Director Timothy J. Hayes said. “They kept it in the forefront. They kept it as an important thing.”

The boys’ hockey team also raised funds this winter, but their efforts were directed to the Wounded Warriors Program, according to Mr. Hayes.

He said the effort was spearheaded by the girls’ hockey team and their coach, Jennifer Gray. That team alone raised $950 in the competition between teams, he said

“They didn’t want to lose to the basketball players. They’re competitive by nature. That was their incentive,” Ms. Gray said.

“They worked hard,” she said. “It was a bunch of girls that definitely did not like to lose.”

She said the fundraiser, in which sponsor pin-up cards with the word “MCS Athletes Fight Cancer” were sold for a suggested donation of $1 but often garnered more, was a way to give back to the community. Proceeds from their games were also donated to the effort.

“We were looking for a way to give back to the community. We get so much support from them,” Ms. Gray said.

She noted that other schools had done similar fundraisers, so they opted to raise money this year for the fight against cancer.

“We thought it was something we could do in Massena,” Ms. Gray said.

Mr. Hayes and Ms. Gray said players like seniors Mackenzie Young and Jaclyn Spinner took the project and ran with it.

These two really spearheaded it for girls’ hockey. (The team) raised $950 on their own. That was a great start,” Mr. Hayes said.

“Mackenzie and the older players took the lead,” Ms. Gray said.

“It was a good way to bring the team together,” Ms. Young said.

She said they handed out the cards to players to sell, and the players took it from there.

“We gave everybody a minimum of 20 cards to sell,” Ms. Young said. “You just have to ask everybody. Several people donated more. It was just the effort of going out and asking.”

“We went around school. Some donated $5, some donated $10,” Ms. Spinner added.

In addition to selling the cards, the girls’ hockey team held a “Pink in the Rink” game in January against Salmon River. The team went all out in that effort at the Massena Arena, according to Ms. Young and Ms. Spinner.

“The whole arena was decorated in pink,” Ms. Young said.

“We had posters, balloons and streamers. We wore pink jerseys and pink socks,” Ms. Spinner said.

Ms. Gray said the decorating was a surprise to her.

“They were on their own,” she said.

Fans were also asked to wear pink that night to show their support for the fight against cancer, and the team also held a pink 50/50 raffle and a pink Chuck-A-Puck contest to raise more funds.

“It was definitely the biggest game of the year,” Ms. Young said.

But the girls weren’t the only contributors to the effort. Varsity wrestler Isaiah Perry and varsity basketball player Xavier Viskovich also sold their fair share of cards.

“I sold about 135,” Mr. Perry said.

“I sold 109 by myself,” Mr. Viskovich said.

“These two guys just jumped on. I was impressed with all the kids. Everybody did something,” Mr. Hayes said.

The members of the wrestling team were given a minimum of five cards to sell for $1 each, but Mr. Perry needed many more for his efforts in school, at tournaments and sports games and the locations where his parents and sisters work.

“I told people it was a cancer benefit, and everyone was all over that,” he said. “I’m always looking for new ways to help out, so I jumped on it.”

The team’s effort also included ordering pink socks with a breast cancer logo and pink headgear.

Mr. Viskovich also needed plenty of cards during his fundraising efforts.

“Being a salesman is in my blood,” he said, a reference to his family’s connection to Fay Motors. “We were given cards and told to sell as many as we could. I figure it’s giving toward a good cause, so I may as well do it and help other people out.”

The team also took part in a Coaches Vs. Cancer game and wore pink armbands to support the effort, Mr. Viskovich said.

Cindy L. Clusen, Claxton-Hepburn Foundation executive director, accepted the check for the foundation.

“This is beautiful. It’s wonderful, high school students pitching in to help. Cancer touches almost all of us in some way, unfortunately,” she said.

Ms. Clusen said she wasn’t aware the Massena athletes were raising funds until she received a call a few days before they presented her with the check.

“We certainly appreciate the help from them,” she said.

Mr. Hayes said the school’s fall athletes annually participate in Make a Difference Day, helping older community members with chores around their home. Now, he said, they’d like to make the cancer effort an annual event, too.

“We’re planning on it,” he said.

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