Hockey benefit games raise awareness for pancreatic cancer

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) For the eighth year in a row, The "Have a Skate with Bob" Foundation held its annual hockey benefit game in Rockford. It's a way to raise money and awareness for pancreatic cancer.

Foundation President Bob Klem lost his wife to pancreatic cancer in 1999. Word about the game made its way through Chicago Blackhawks message boards and eventually to the Forest City. However, this year's event took an unexpected turn before the games even began.

"Bob suddenly passed away early this past spring. As soon as that happened, I didn't want it to fall apart."

Jack Goldberg is a managing partner for the foundation. He took over the planning and organizing of the event and says it's important to keep these games going.

"Now it's not just about fighting pancreatic cancer, but it's also doing something in Bob's legacy."

More than 60 volunteer skaters from across the region came to play in this event.

"I know Bob was very passionate about the cause," said volunteer player Tom Hanson. "But I have a parent who passed away from cancer a couple years ago so even the couple of years, in particular, it's taken on a special meaning."

Volunteer player Devin Chodak echoed that statement.

"I had never really heard anything about pancreatic cancer before," said Chodak. "I didn't know how fast and how aggressive it was. It was something that, the more I talked about with other people, the more I discovered how many other people in my life had been touched by this."

So when Chodak heard the game would still take place, she could not wait to step on the ice at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

"This is exactly what Bob would want. He wouldn't want us to cry and be sad for him. He would want us to keep going and keep kicking cancer's butt."

"It's what gets everybody else energized and bringing more people in and raising more money," said Hanson. "His passion is basically what built this thing to what it is today."

Just like how social media has evolved over time, the "Have a Skate with Bob" foundation has also taken on a new meaning as well.

"When things effect you personally every year, it's always (difficult)," said Goldberg. "It's those moments. We live life in moments and a moment like today when we're out there, out on that ice, everybody kind of looks up and smiles."

More than $15,000 was raised from this weekend's event, with proceeds going towards the Pancreatic Action Network and the Junior IceHogs hockey program.

For more information, you can email the organization at skatewithbobfoundation@gmail.com.