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

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MASSENA — Massena High School’s winter athletes hope the money they raised this season will help in the fight against cancer.

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

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

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

He said the effort was spearheaded by the girls hockey team and its coach, Jennifer Gray. That team alone raised $950 in the competition, 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.”

Sponsor pin-up cards with the words “MCS Athletes Fight Cancer” were sold for a suggested donation of $1, but often garnered more. Proceeds from the teams’ Massena Athletes Fight Cancer 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.

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

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.

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

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

Ms. Gray said the decorating came as a surprise to her.

“They were on their own,” she said.

Fans also were 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 even more money.

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

Cindy L. Clusen, Claxton-Hepburn Foundation executive director, accepted the check on the foundation’s behalf.

“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 money until she received a call a few days before they presented her with the check.

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

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