by Nick Barden
Grace Bowen touched a lot of hearts in her brief life. The 9-year-old Grafton girl battled osteosarcoma, a type of cancer that produces immature bone. Grace was known for her big smile and the massive amount of courage she showed in the face of her disease. On March 13th, 2015, just over a year after being diagnosed, Grace passed away.
After her diagnosis, Grace became good friends with Canadian Hockey Icon, Hayley Wickenheiser. As they grew closer, Grace and Wickenheiser attended the Canadian Walk of Fame, where they met Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds. He became another good friend of the brave little girl. He dedicated his People’s Choice award to her.
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) November 3, 2016
Her courage has become an inspiration to others. Her name now adorns the prize in the annual Sick Kids Bubble Hockey Tournament.
The tournament, now in its fourth year, is a fundraiser for the hospital. 96 teams took part in this year’s event.
Sick Kids is raising money to build a brand new hospital. Officials say the current hospital is old and is limited to what it can do for children.
The provincial government has pledged $2.4 billion to build the new facility. The hospital’s foundation is aiming to raise another $1.3 billion.
“This event is responsible for raising somewhere around $400,000 towards the greatest needs of the hospital,” says Jamie Lamont, the Director of Special Events at Sick Kids, “Every event I run like this brings a smile to my face. Every time you run an event like this, I get to bring 400 or 500, to 5000 people together for a common cause, and for me, that’s a day well spent.”
Toronto Maple Leafs sportscaster Joe Bowen was there to MC the event. For him, supporting Sick Kids is personal.
“My son’s 26 now, but when he was 1 year old he had leukemia and he was in Sick Kids.”
Bowen went on to talk about some of the Toronto Maple Leaf players who visited his son. He says, visits like those are not just important to the kids, they mean a lot to the families as well.
“They’re (parents) going through hell, financially it’s draining, time wise it’s draining, emotionally, it’s extraordinarily draining. So when people like that, heroes to them, more so than maybe their kids come up and show their enthusiasm for Sick Kids and everything else, it’s important for the families, but I think most times, it’s for the parents.”
How the Event Worked
Four Leafs alumni volunteered to take part, Darryl Sittler, Carlo Colaiacovo, Shayne Corson, and Gary Leeman. Teams bid on the former hockey stars to get them to play with them.
Teams would face each other and the teams with the most wins would go on to the elimination rounds. It would go, 1st Round, 2nd Round, Semi-Finals, and Finals. The winner would get to hoist the Grace Bowen trophy and get their names on it.
It was tight going into Round of 16, but it got tighter as the amount teams got smaller. In the finals, it would be UberFlip Team 3 vs. Team Blakes.
Now after saying the rounds before the final were tight, this game wasn’t. The patience and skill by Team Blakes came out in the end, with them winning 7-0.
And in the end, Team Blakes got a chance to hoist the cup with Grace Bowen’s parents, Andrea and Greg.
There were over 300 Sick Kids supporters at the Sick Kids Bubble Hockey Tournament. The event was a huge success raising over $370,000 with all the money going towards the Sick Kids VS campaign, which will help bring a brand new hospital to the City of Toronto.
Grace would have been proud.