Carlton Crushes Cancer game raises $100,003 for Victoria Hospital Foundation

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald The Carlton Crusaders senior girls' basketball team reacts after they found out that their Carlton Crushes Cancer fundraising game brought in $100,003 dollars for the Victoria Hospital Foundation.

There was a feeling of shock, excitement and disbelief on Thursday night at the Carlton Physical Activity Complex.

When the final totals came in for the Carlton Crushes Cancer event that featured the Crusaders senior girls’ basketball program, the team found out that a total of $100,003 had been raised for the Victoria Hospital Foundation.

“Words can’t really describe how we all felt at that moment,” Crusaders Grade 12 player Gage Grassick said. “As we revealed those numbers one by one, my heart started to beat faster and faster.

“This wasn’t about basketball today. Our community gave so much to us and we wanted to give back to them. It was an overwhelming feeling as everything finished up and it all paid off.”

In addition to the basketball game against the Melfort Comets, the event featured raffle draws, a silent auction, junior NBA players, a performance by the Barveenok Ukrainian Dance Club and a pie in the face fundraiser that included Prince Albert Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid and Crusaders bench boss Kelsey Pearson.

“We started fundraising about 11 weeks ago,” Pearson said. “The biggest thing that was going through my mind as the final total was being announced was just how amazing this community is.

“The only reason that we were able to raise as much as we did was because of how this community comes together for things like this. If you need something in Prince Albert, all you have to do is ask.”

The evening also had some extra significance for Pearson as her sister is battling cancer and recently found out that it’s terminal.

“When I first took this on, I was super worried that I was going to let people down,” Pearson said. “But I had people come up to me and say ‘No, we’re going to help you do this.’

“The amount of money that we raised was not the point of this. It’s about helping people in need. One of the most important things for me was to show the girls that you can come together and do something that’s bigger than yourselves. When it got hard for all of us on the coaching staff and we were really tired, the girls saw that and they just pulled together.”

After seeing everything that went on at Carlton on Thursday, the Comets will now gear up to host their own Pink Game next season as they’ll play the Meadow Lake Carpenter Spartans.

“This was a great experience for us,” Comets head coach Kelly Linnell said. “Carlton did a phenomenal job and the support from the entire community was amazing to see.

“We have some ideas that we can take from tonight’s game towards next year and we’re excited to have the chance to help give back to our community in Melfort.”

The Crusaders, who won the game by a score of 59-37, will return to action next weekend as they’ll travel to Regina for a tournament that is hosted by the Campbell Tartans.