The Stick It to Cancer hockey tournament was started back in 1999 as a fundraiser for Jody Anderson, a woman, wife and mother in the Centennial hockey community who battled breast cancer.
Unfortunately, Jody never made it to see year two of the tournament. But, for those playing in or sponsoring this year’s event, her son, former Gopher Hockey player R.J. Anderson, wants you to know that his mom, while now an angel, was no saint on the ice.
“My mom, she played on a women’s team and my dad was a coach, along with another husband,” says R.J. “And I remember, we used to go and watch her play at Edison rink, and my dad goes, ‘RJ, I’ve learned more, new, four-letter words that I can’t share with you in the first half-hour coaching that team than I ever want you to know.’ So, if there’s some friendly chirping out there that would put a smile on her face.”
That’s good because the other thing R.J. wants you to know about his mom is not that she had breast cancer, but that Jody Anderson was all about putting smiles on people’s faces.
“I think, when you talk to people who knew my mom, she was a fighter,” R.J. said. “But she was also one of the most loving people that you could ask for. She was always helping other people. She was always finding a way to positively impact the people around her and trying to put a smile on their face.
This brings us back to ‘Stick It to Cancer.’ The event takes place April 17-19 at the National Sports Center’s Super Rink and is rare in that while it’s still very much a competitive hockey tournament, it is every bit as much a celebration. It’s a celebration of hockey and a of life itself.
“What’s amazing is, sometimes you see something pick up steam for a period of time, then it just kind of peters out. This is not that,” R.J. said. “To see the support and the continued fundraising that has continued over the past 21 years is something to be very proud of. Cancer hurts too many people and happens all too often, but to see a great event, tied to the great sport of hockey, and the money and awareness that it raises, is awesome…to see how it’s grown over the last twenty one years.”
Initially held as a fundraiser for the Anderson family, Stick It to Cancer has grown and benefited multiple organizations throughout the years. Most recently, the primary benefactor is the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer.
“The way the tournament has grown, I know she’s smiling, and she would be very happy to see the impact that this has made,” R.J. said. “The impact is making somebody aware of what is going on in their body a day earlier, and that gives them a day more to put a game plan together to hopefully eliminate cancer, then that’s all she would want. I know she is very happy and extremely proud of everyone who has kept this tournament going over the past 21 years, and would want to see it continue forever, until cancer is not a problem anymore.”
What keeps Stick It to Cancer going are the sponsors and businesses who donate auction items, the referees, announcers and scorekeepers who all donate their time throughout the weekend, and the players, most of whom play because they share an unwanted connection to breast cancer.
The goal of this year’s Stick it to Cancer tournament is to surpass one million dollars in funds raised. Seeing how the hockey community has embraced the cause and how it now seeks to benefit so many would certainly put a smile on the face of the woman it was intended to help in the first place.
“I think the foundation was certainly built 21 years ago, and it’s exciting to see where it’s gone, and she would want it to be about everyone else because we need to find a way to remove this thing from everybody’s life,” says R.J. “Removing it for one person is great, but if we can do it for everyone, or the greater good, then that would be the perfect vision.”
To register a team and/or find more ways to be involved in this year’s Stick it to Cancer, visit the tournament website, https://www.nscsports.org/stickit.
To make a quick and easy donation, text STICKIT to 71777.