One year ago brothers Adam and Jake Pray thought they had played their last meaningful hockey game.
They were wrong.
The Pray’s, 18, and their Kenmore West teammate fell to West Seneca East in the Section VI Small School championship. They hugged, as teammates, one last time and then skated off the ice at the KeyBank Center thinking that was it. No hockey game will mean as much ever again.
This summer, the Pray’s will be playing for something far more important than a championship, they will be playing for family as they take part in the 11 Day Power Play Community Shift that will be played at HarborCenter July 5-15.
They will be playing in honor of their aunt, and Adam’s Godmother, Kathleen Veronica who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2016.
“I think we were all scared,” Adam Pray said. “You hear about it, but it’s something our family hadn’t really experienced before. Other people get diagnosed with cancer. I just feel like I took (our good fortune) for granted a bit. It just became so much more real when it happened closer to home.”
The Pray’s, who played volleyball, hockey and baseball during their days as Blue Devils will be playing on a team organized by close friends Tyler and Justin Crawford. With players ranging in age from 18-23, the team which is a mix of Ken-Ton residents who attended Ken-West, Ken-East and St.Joe’s, also included the Pray’s older cousin, Trevor Pray.
“We really jumped on it when Tyler reached out to us,” Adam Pray said. “It was definitely something that we would like to do. It’ll definitely be bigger then any high school game, and travel game. There’s so much more meaning behind it. All of the much needed funds that we’re raising and to be able to do it in honor of our aunt, just makes it even better.”
The 11 Day Power Play made world-wide head lines last summer when the team of 40 players made their attempt at the existing mark for the world’s longest continuous hockey game. The 11 Day Power Play played just shy of 251 consecutive hours. While 11Day is still waiting for official conformation from on if their game being a record, they did succeed in their financial mission by raising $1.2 million for Roswell Park Cancer Institute in the process.
The overwhelming response to that game inspired 11 Day Power Play founders Mike and Amy Lesakowski, also Ken-Ton residents, to launch another game this summer: Dubbed 11 Day Power Play Community Shift, this game will be more schedule friendly as it will allow more people in the community to get involved.
Unlike this first 11 Day Power Play, which pitted two teams of 20 players against each other, the Community Shift opens the door for 118 team’s that will be placed in age and skill appropriate brackets and play a 4 hour shift.
The first game, as per the criteria for the record, required all 40 players to remain on the Harborcenter property for the duration of the game-barring medical emergency.
Since the world record is not in play the community shift format allows players to leave after their shift is over.
“It’s really special to play in this first off, but to be able to play in honor of my aunt Kath just made it extra special,” Jake Pray said. “My brother and I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to play in this event, and couldn’t pass up the chance to raise money to show our love and support for our aunt Kath, as well.”
The Pray’s senior night baseball game against rival Kenmore East last May was a Strike Out cancer in honor of Kathleen’s battle against cancer. While taking part in that game was special, Jacob and Adam said being able to play in 11 Day Power Play and raise money is even more meaningful.
Feeling so powerless when they heard the news of their dear aunt Kathleen’s diagnosis the Pray’s said playing in the 11 Day Power Play feels like it gives them some control to do good when so much seemed out of their control.
“Very much so,” Adam Pray said. “Last year, the 11 Day Power Play, we followed it very closely. We just recognized the power and impact the game can have. Thinking that it’s something we’d probably want to be a part of. When Tyler came to us, to be given this opportunity to be part of something like the 11 Day Power Play it definitely gives us a feeling that we can help make a difference.”
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