BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — If you look around HaborCenter during the 11 Day Power Play, you’ll notice a lot of emotion. Many are there hitting the ice, or cheering on a loved one, while honoring or remembering someone battling cancer.
Denise Bartosz and her daughter, Rachel, were in that crowd Monday morning. Matt Bartosz, Denise’s son, played in the marathon hockey game from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. He did so just four months after losing his father, Kevin, to laryngeal cancer.
“It’s very emotional, I’m really proud of my son for raising all the money for my husband,” Denise said. “And I’m really happy to have so many people here watching the players, and this great support system.”
As of Monday, more than $1.4 million has been raised for cancer charities. Matt himself raised more than $3,000. At his father’s funeral, the family asked for people to support cancer research, instead of donating flowers. Many donated to Matt’s 11 Day Power Play team, in Kevin’s honor.
“It’s incredible what Buffalo can come together and do,” Rachel said.
Matt is one of 2,500 players involved in the event. That’s 1,000 players more than last year. They play in 3-hour shifts, which continue 24 hours a day.
And many, like the Bartosz’s, have some sort of connection to cancer.
“My best friend… he passed away 21 years (ago) now of brain cancer,” Greg Podsiadlo said.
Greg Podsiadlo is a team captain who’s on the ice in remembrance of his best friend, Carmen, who passed away when he was just 23 years old. He played alongside his kids and friends, all while thinking about the guy who he said always joked around and put a smile on others’ faces.
“We get sweaty and play the game we love for an amazing cause,” he said. “It’s awesome.”
Funds from the 11 Day Power Play go to Roswell Park, Make-a-Wish WNY, and Camp Good Days.