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The Northeast Classic: More Than a Game

0 - Published April 25, 2013 by in College, NCAA

Editor’s Note: Kelly Curtis and her husbanded co-founded the Northeast Classic – Face off Against Cancer in 2008 and now currently run Curtis Lacrosse Camps here in Vermont. Her husband Ryan is also the head lacrosse coach at the University of Vermont. Before she and Ryan moved to Vermont in 2005, she worked at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as an Infusion Room Facilitator and later a Administrative Assistant for Dr. Mary-Ellen Taplin in Genitourinary Oncology in Boston, Massachusetts. She has seen the miracles the Dana-Farber Oncologist create on a daily basis and knows that the money donated to GU Oncology and Women’s Cancers is spent wisely.

Today, she stops by to share a touching story about two inspirational young men and a team rallying around their fight against cancer.

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Photos of Drew Philie (UVM player), Henry, and Leo by Nick Mazur Photography

My husband Ryan is the head lacrosse coach at the University of Vermont. In 2007 one of his players was diagnosed with testicular cancer and we watched the team come to grips with the reality that cancer can touch anyone at any age. That fall we started a college lacrosse tournament called the Northeast Classic – Face Off Against Cancer (formally known as the Catamount Classic) and donated the proceeds to cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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The goal of the Northeast Classic is to inform as many young adults as possible about the importance of cancer screening and prevention. In 2010 we started an Inspirational Families Program to help lacrosse families surviving cancer create fantastic memories.

Last year we met Henry Fenollosa and his family. Henry is a patient of the Jimmy Fund in Boston and is the definition of inspirational. He was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma the day before he was born and he came into this world a cancer fighter. He started treatment hours after his birth and as a result has partial paralysis in one of his legs. He doesn’t let that stop him from playing the game that he loves though and he signed up for his first youth team this spring.

The University of Vermont men’s lacrosse team met Henry and his family at last year’s Northeast Classic – Face Off Against Cancer. Henry, his brother Leo and their father Josh stood on the sideline with the team during their scrimmages. The UVM players and our team parents welcomed the Fenollosa family from day one and think it was their good luck that led us to a win over Sacred Heart this season.

We set out to give this family some fantastic lacrosse memories, but we didn’t realize how much they would be giving back to the team. Henry doesn’t let anything stop him and that is the perfect message to give to a college lacrosse team. The team cannot wait to see the boys this weekend and they will present Henry and Leo with their own team jerseys at halftime.

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Vermont plays Hartford this Saturday in their last regular season conference game. The winner of this game could go on to the America East Tournament. Over the last six years the University of Vermont men’s lacrosse team and the Hartford men’s lacrosse team have fundraised the most amount of money and donated it to the Northeast Classic. Both teams go above and beyond with team fundraising and we could not be more grateful.

To date the Classic has donated nearly $155,000 to cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and we have handed out thousands of cancer screening and prevention packets all over New England. Colleges all over Vermont and New Hampshire are holding Northeast Classic tables for us each fall to help us spread the word.

For more information about our Inspirational Families Program, visit NortheastClassic.org.

For more information about Henry and his family, check out this story on him from NESN.com.

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