Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Lisa McRitchie on 09/06/11 at 03:30 PM ET
Philanthropist and optometrist Dr. Brent Saik is no stranger to the game of hockey. In fact, it is this do-gooder who is behind the World’s Longest Hockey Game at Saiker’s Acres just east of Edmonton near Sherwood Park, Alberta. This 10 day long marathon game takes place outside in the blistering Alberta February cold. You want to sign up to play right now don’t you? Dr. Saik has organized and run this event not once, but now four record breaking times. The most recent game was held February 2011 and has raised more than the $1,000,000 goal. According to the website, the event has unofficially raised $1,124,475.03 for revolutionary cancer fighting tools in Edmonton. What kind of score would a game like that end with? How about 2067 to 2005.
Dr. Saik (left) was all smiles through the pain. All photos by Trisha Freerkson. All rights reserved
Dr. Saik was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time Tuesday morning, September 6th. I have a million questions I would like to ask Dr. Saik about the game, how it affects his family and why he does it, but for that I think I should seek out a time slot instead of calling him up out of blue to see how he’s doing. Because Dr. Saik is such a great man, I was not surprised that he seemed happy to speak with me.
Some of my questions have been answered in some ways; Dr. Saik raises money for cancer because it has affected his life so severely with his father and wife being lost to the disease. In terms of how it affect his family, this year Dr. Saik made this a real family affair. His young daughter is old enough to understand and see what her father is doing and is undoubteblty proud of his accomplishments. Also, Dr. Saik’s fiancée took part in the marathon game. I can’t think of a more rewarding bonding experience.
Of course I wanted to ask Dr. Saik about the fundraising totals from the most recent game. The goal was to raise $1,000,000 and according to the website, that goal was surpassed, “Yes, $1.3 million we raised.” Clearly that total means that many people heard the call to donate and were touched in some way by the efforts.
The record for longest game stood for nearly seven months, but it was still beaten very soon by 40 women playing indoors in Burnaby B.C. “I think it’s great. It’s I think the fourth time that someone has beaten our record I think. To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure. But I mean, it’s a record and it’s meant to be broken. I think that what’s good about it is that it’s turned into an animal that basically is a fundraiser. I’m kind of proud of that. I’ve started something that people can latch onto and say ‘that’s a good idea, let’s raise some money’ for whatever cause they’re doing it for.”
What a great attitude. After so much work; hours of planning, building and fundraising, it might be hard to look and see your record elapsed by someone else, but the funds raised remain and lives will never be the same as a result; in the very best way of course.
This last game was played indoors, how do you think that that compares? “It is what it is. It’s still a marathon, it’s ten days. It’s different indoors to outdoors. I think that Guinness may even separate the two they were talking about it from the last game, I’m not sure that they will or not but at the end of the day, ten days is not fun to be on skates.”
No, I can’t imagine it would be. Are you healing well from your frost bite and injuries? “I’m getting there. It takes me 6-8 months before I’m able to climb stairs again and that kind of stuff. It’s a lot better now than it used to be in March.”
With all of those injuries and the physical and mental cost are you still hoping to do this again? “Oh ya, of course, we’re already making plans for the next one. It will be within a couple of years. We’ll do it again and keep doing it.”
After raising over $1,000,000 do you have goals for the next game? “Ya, for me to walk sooner than six months [laughs].” Well that seems like a good healthy goal.
“No, we seem to always have some marketing scheme I guess right, and we haven’t thought of that yet. I know that the venue itself is going to be different. I’ve got plans for the rink and a different change room. There were so many people that came by last time; I always think that I’m prepared for the number of people that visit, but I wasn’t again so I’ve got to make more room, and clear off more snow so that people can park and I want to have it more of a carnival atmosphere with some bands and that’s the next step for me.”
Thank you so much for your time Dr. Saik, “Thank you.”
If this isn’t proof of what one person can do, I’m not sure what is. Dr. Saik has taken his idea and built upon it time and time again. Members of the Edmonton Oilers and even the media have gone down and in some cases participated in the event and all of the public has been welcomed to Dr. Saik’s home to watch the game.
I have no doubt that the next game will be his most successful yet, as will any subsequent game. There is always a good time to donate to cancer fundraisers, but it often seems much easier to donate a few dollars when so many people give so much of themselves.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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