Smashfest fundraiser hits new heights

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NHLPA

NHLPA

“Extremely gratifying,” are the words Dominic Moore chose to describe what Smashfest has become through its seven-year tenure.

In the first year, the charity ping-pong challenge raised $25,000, and now seven years later the event has raised more than $865,000. The increase of support and popularity is something Moore wouldn’t have imagined when he started the event seven years ago.

“In Year 1, we started with kind of a quirky idea and we weren’t sure how it would be received,” Moore said. “Now in Year 7, to see what it’s become, it’s a testament to everyone that’s involved.”

The charity ping-pong challenge, which is held at the Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto, is supported by the NHLPA and raises money annually for research surrounding concussions and rare cancers. With the support of current and former NHLers, Moore has been able to make the event a growing success.

Some of the NHLers at the event this year included William Nylander, Jeff Skinner, Chris Tierney and now four-time consecutive champ Patrick Eaves, who beat Skinner in the final. But it was the presence of former NHLer Doug Gilmour which made this year that much more special for Moore.

“He’s one of my favorite players, obviously,” Moore said. “I idolized him growing up.”

This year, Smashfest announced that they supported a new partnership with Dr. Arthur Brown at the Robarts Research Institute at the University of Western Ontario. The new study being initiated focuses on concussions in regard to a brain protein called tau which maintains the structure and health of brain cells. This brain protein is also known to take an abnormal form and accumulate in parts of the brain, leading to harmful effects on the brain.

The study wants to focus on whether or not restraining tau will result in reduced levels of abnormal tau and lead to better cognitive performance in the long term.

Concussion protocols in the NHL have been a hot topic for years now.

“I think it’s getting better,” Eaves said. “I know we have talks about it and I’d say when I started in the league until now, it has drastically improved.”

On the rare cancer side, last year Smashfest announced its support to the Broad Institute, which intends to create resources to quicken the study and treatment of rare cancers.

“It’s a pilot project,” Moore said. “So what they’re learning has greater application then even what they are discovering themselves because it’s a model for other projects to follow.”

Even though it’s been just seven years, Smashfest is already making a difference in two areas of critical medical research which impacts millions of people every year.

And with a jam-packed event space, there is no shortage of support.

“There’s a ton more people here; it’s getting the coverage it deserves,” Eaves said. “It’s a great event to be a part of and for great causes.”

- article by Ryan Orlecki

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