LITTLE CURRENT – The Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) Mustangs are hosting a hockey double-header fundraiser at the Little Current-Howland Recreation Centre this Friday, January 17 in honour of Cassandra Cristo, a former Mustang hockey star who recently passed away from cancer at the age of 20.
“I feel this event would allow students past and present to (grieve) Cassandra in a positive way, and at the same time give back to the Manitoulin community,” said Mustangs girls’ team manager Lisa Addison.
That evening, the girls team takes to the ice at 5:30 pm for a game against L’Horizon, followed by a boys’ game at 7 pm against St. Benedict.
“We are hoping, with the students’ help and a double-header hockey game to draw a crowd, to do some fundraising and make a donation to a local hospital cancer treatment room in memory of (Cassandra),” said Ms. Addison.
Cassandra was life-long lover of hockey and a proud member of both the Manitoulin Panthers Minor Hockey League and the Mustangs squad. She played for MSS in Grades 9, 10 and 11, but received her diagnosis after her third season at the high school.
Sherri Cristo, Cassandra’s mother, said this tribute event was very touching. Ms. Addison called her to get permission before starting the planning process.
“It’s an honour that so many people thought so highly of Cassandra that they wanted to do something locally in her memory,” Ms. Cristo told The Expositor.
“Hockey was Cassandra’s passion. She absolutely loved playing hockey, watching hockey, anything to do with it,” she said.
Mustangs girls’ team coach Mike Meeker said he holds onto fond memories of Cassandra’s time playing for him.
“She was a coach’s dream. She was always 100 percent, always gave her best and was one of those girls that really paid attention, so her positional play was good,” he said of the strong defence player.
“She was a good team player. The girls liked her and they all got along well. She was just a joy as a player and as a person,” added Mr. Meeker.
During her last season, Mr. Meeker said he could tell that there was something wrong, even though nobody knew what the problem was at the time. Receiving the cancer news was tough for the entire team.
“It was really hard for the girls and for Cassandra. She was pretty brave through the whole thing,” said Mr. Meeker. “The girls liked Cassandra and knowing what she was going through made it tough for them as well.”
At the game this Friday and through the rest of the season, the girls’ team members will each place a sticker on their helmets featuring Cassandra’s name and sweater number.
MSS has a proud tradition of bringing the community together to support its students in need. The hockey teams arranged a previous fundraiser in 2017 when Cassandra received her diagnosis, an event that raised more than $6,000 to support Cassandra’s family with the costs associated with her treatment.
A 2018 fundraiser for MSS alumnus Connor Croft, who was waiting for a kidney transplant, raised $10,000.
The girls’ game begins this Friday at 5:30 pm at the Little Current-Howland Recreation Centre.