#WHY WE PLAY
Every five minutes someone receives a new diagnosis of dementia that will change their lives forever.
When people hear the name Gordie Howe, they remember that tough but graceful hockey player sporting the famous number 9, affectionately known as “Mr. Hockey.” In a career spanning twenty-six NHL seasons, he accomplished more than anyone could have ever imagined. Today, an even bigger legacy exists to reduce statistics instead of creating them.
As the signature fundraising event of Gordie Howe CARES, the Pro-Am tournament has a multi-faceted objective.
Gordie Howe CARES provides education and support to the caregivers that selflessly dedicate their time caring for loved ones affected with Alzheimer’s and dementia related diseases, so they are never alone on their journey. Our initiative includes the development of an interactive tool to help families prepare for the challenging times ahead of them. Through the incorporation of video stories, advice, and planning tools, they can feel confident making decisions collectively while maintaining their health and relationships at home and in the workplace.
Through the partnership with Dr. Zahinoor Ismail, Gordie Howe CARES has retained the specialized research and subject matter expertise necessary required to inform our caregiving support system. Dr. Ismail has research positions at Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the University of Calgary. He is a unique Specialist Physician in the sense that he remains a clinician and is involved in direct patient care, but also holds the research designation of Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Epidemiology.
The combination of this depth of research on dementia related illness and the development of this proprietary caregiving community tool, Gordie Howe CARES further assists those affected by dementia through the direct support of the loved ones who are providing support themselves.
Along with every participant, sponsor, fan, and donation, the Gordie Howe CARES Pro-Am tournament continues to play an important role in the support of those who sacrifice so much to be a support themselves.
In addition to our support of caregivers, hockey as a sport in Canada is in its own phase of healing. To spotlight this important effort, Gordie Howe CARES is also making it our goal to keep diversity and inclusivity at the heart of our events, making hockey more available and accessible to all.
Helplessly watching your father's life be taken away slowly as his brain could no longer remember people, things, or places was one thing. When the brain forgets how to eat, drink, or breath is another. I know that feeling of unpreparedness and loneliness as a caregiver therefore I work on the board for Gordie Howe CARES so that other caregivers are prepared and supported for whatever the journey with their loved one looks like.
The first time I interacted with Gordie Howe CARES was at a Pro-Am while my dad was struggling with Alzheimer's. Who wouldn't like a weekend of hockey and the great Gordie Howe signing autographs and taking pictures with every fan who wanted one. But it was more than that for me—It was the first time since my dad's diagnosis that I didn't feel like we were the only family going through this. That other's knew the sadness and heartbreak. So many people wanted to support the cause and make a difference. That event was part of the care and support I needed as a caregiver.
Committee Member, Participant and Former Team Captain "Prime Suspects"
When I originally got involved with the tournament, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the tournament experience. I just knew that I was going to support a cause that was evolving in my family. My gram was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and as a family we were not sure what to expect or how to deal with it. Gram was a widow and living on her own, so the person that was closest to her was my aunt. She became the primary caregiver and the front line of defense for gram. Things started slow, but then started to get more and more complicated and stressful for my aunt. It really took a toll on the family worrying about gram, but it really took a toll on my aunt as the primary caregiver. Finding information and supports was not super easy to find and the journey to getting gram in a full-time care facility took time and a great deal of patience. So my participation in the tournament started as a good cause that I wanted to support, but it evolved as the tournament evolved. I really supported the change in focus on the caregiver and not just research. This is a similar story I hear from other participants that have their own family story with Alzheimer’s. I feel we have a good mix of supports in the community with information and programs, while supporting research. The tournament is a great excuse to keep the message front and centre and allow people to support the cause and programs.
Executive Director, NHL Alumni
The NHL Alumni Association is honoured to be a part of the solution to help educate, support and hopefully eventually cure Alzheimer’s Disease or related Dementia. Many of our participating alumni have personal ties to the disease so the cause is very near and dear to their hearts. They look forward to continually bringing awareness to the matter through the Gordie Howe CARES Pro-Am.