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Roadbreakers tourney looks to end on a high note

Over the last three decades, the Roadbreakers road hockey tournament has raised some $380,000 for youth charities in the Waterloo Region.

The Roadbreakers annual road hockey tournament has raised some $380,000 for local youth charities over the past 29 years and organizers are striving to bring in another $30,000 at the 30th and final event on May 2 at the University of Waterloo.  [Submitted]
The Roadbreakers annual road hockey tournament has raised some $380,000 for local youth charities over the past 29 years and organizers are striving to bring in another $30,000 at the 30th and final event on May 2 at the University of Waterloo. [Submitted]
Now, for the 30th and final event, organizers are looking to go out with a bang.

“For our last tournament, we’re hoping to raise $30,000 for Pride Stables,” Tim Collins said. “We felt that it was time to draw this event to a close and we want to really make a strong push to bring in some money for a great cause.”

Held on May 2 at the University of Waterloo, registration is open for kids and, for the first time, adults as well.

“We decided to go big this year and to reach out to all of the players, volunteers and sponsors that have been involved over the years,” Collins explained. “And we thought ‘wouldn’t it be fun if everyone could take part this time?’”

Collins launched the tournament back in 1985 with friends  Charlie McMane and Gary McQuillan. Inspired by the trend of three-on-three, driveway basketball tourneys taking off in the United States, they decided to put a Canadian spin on the concept.

“Gary (McQuillan) had read a story in Sport Illustrated about the Gus Macker basketball tournament,” Collins remembered. “And what they did was they basically closed down this town in the States for a weekend and they had three-on-three basketball games. What they did was they put courts up everywhere, on the streets and in the parking lots and where ever. And so Gary was reading that and he thought that it sounded like a pretty neat idea and that we could  do something like that here.”

The trio decided to aim the event at kids during the March Break.

“Back 30 years ago, there wasn’t a whole lot for kids to do while they were off school in March,” Collins said. “And so we thought that it could be a great opportunity to have a good time while raising some money through sponsorships and fees that we could give to a youth charity in the community. The idea was that it would be kids helping kids.”

For the first 20 years or so, organizers would alternate between a variety of local youth charities. Eventually, they decided to focus on a partnership with Pride Stables, a therapeutic horseback riding facility in Kitchener for people with disabilities.

“It’s an amazing place,” Collins said. “The therapeutic riding does a couple of things for the kids: it gets them out to places where they might not otherwise have had the opportunity to go, and it also works their muscles. You’ve just got to see the kids’ faces when they’re up on the horses – it is truly remarkable. It transforms those kids. It is a simple thing, you’re putting them on a horse, but it really transforms them because they get to bond with the horses because they get to know them. And the people there, the volunteers are just amazing.”

Registration for the 30th and final Roadbreakers road hockey tournament continues online at www.roadbreakers.ca through April 20.

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