Today (Saturday) marks the tenth annual Optimist Charity Challenge Hockey Tournament, a one-day hockey tournament aimed at raising funds for Anselma House in Kitchener. The tournament is organized by the Conestoga-Winterbourne Optimist Club and the Waterloo North Optimist Club.
“They’re building a new home in Kitchener, and our money is going towards a play area for kids in the new facility,” said tournament organizer Pete Dietrich of Anselma House, a shelter for battered women and their children. “So we’re asking to direct the money towards that, because the Optimists are all about kids in the community.”
The tournament is made up of 20 teams, each playing in a one-game showdown against another team for bragging rights. There is no championship game, no trophy to be won, just an excuse to get together and play some hockey for a great cause.
This year, however, the Optimists took a slightly different approach to their tenth anniversary.
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They really emphasized the role of corporate sponsors, unlike past years where they mainly relied on pledges from the participating teams. There are four levels of sponsorship this year; platinum (over $1,000); gold ($500 to $999); silver ($250 to $499); and bronze ($100 to $249). Platinum and gold sponsors will have their company logos placed on the shirts that are given to all the participants in this years tournament.
“Really, we’re a charity and we’re trying to generate as much revenue as we can for the charity, and it ended up being a big success this year,” said Dietrich of their emphasis on corporate sponsors this year, adding that they’ve raised more than $10,000 from corporate sponsors alone.
The tournament moved to Elmira for the first time last year after spending the previous eight years at RIM Park in Waterloo. The Optimist Club helped raise funds for the new Woolwich Memorial Centre, and since many of the club’s members live in the area, Dietrich said they felt it was time to move the tournament to Elmira.
And if the motivation to outperform the other teams on the ice wasn’t enough incentive, Dietrich said they’ve managed to build competition into the fundraising process as well. Teams that raise $1,500 in pledges get a 50 per cent reduction in the entrance fee ($85 per team), and teams that raise $2,500 get their ice time for free.
The top two fundraising teams also receive box seats to a Kitchener Rangers game.
In the end though, the money raised is going to a very worthy cause, said Dietrich. The Optimists have made a commitment that 50 per cent of the money raised at the tournament – which Dietrich estimates is going to be about $40,000 this year – will go to Anselma House, and after the final tally is added up, the clubs may decide to give even more.
“My guess is it’s going to be more than that 50 per cent. It could be up to 100 per cent of that,” he said. “They’re doing this build and they need the money now, and it seems to fit with what we’re trying to do, which is support local kids in our community.”
The tournament starts at 10:30 a.m. today (Saturday) with the final game scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at the WMC.