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Decatur hockey alumni hope to ice cancer with charity games

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Former Decatur Flames hockey players practice the inaugural charity alumni game in 2015 at the Decatur Civic Center. 

DECATUR -- Once again, alumni of the Decatur Youth Hockey Association are ready to put the skates and pads back on for a good cause.

After a successful inaugural event last year, the association will host the second alumni game Saturday night at the Decatur Civic Center. All proceeds will go toward the American Cancer Society.

“We had planned this as an annual event, and it made sense with the success we had doing it last year,” said Mark Birch, a board member for the association and coordinator for the event

The first game is set to begin at 6 p.m., with the second game to start at 8:30 p.m. Games will be split between senior alumni and junior alumni players.

The cost of admission is a minimum $5 donation or providing a new, unwrapped toy that will go toward the Toys for Tots Foundation.

In addition to the hockey games, there will be a raffle and a silent auction with items that range those provided by the National Hockey League, to autographed jerseys from Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and the St. Louis Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko, as well as tickets for Blackhawks, Blues and St. Louis Cardinals games.

Food and drinks, including alcohol, will also be available for purchase.

The goal for the event is to raise $20,000 to go toward cancer research. More than $15,000 was raised for the American Cancer Society last year, in addition to three large boxes of unwrapped toys collected for the Salvation Army.

Birch is hopeful that the event can continue to grow in stature and become as successful as other notable charity drives in the area, including the WSOY Community Food Drive.

The cause is especially meaningful for Birch, whose children’s four grandmothers have all died from cancer.

After he retires next year, Birch said he wants to make it his mission to spread this type of event to as many USA Hockey Association members across the country to all raise money toward ACS.

“It has almost become my mission to eliminate this disease,” he said.

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