THE TEAM MEMBERS of the seven squads and coaches that participated in Saturday’s “Drive Out Cancer” tournament pose for a photo. Over $11,000 was raised during the annual event. ERIC MAXIM / THE TIMES RECORD

THE TEAM MEMBERS of the seven squads and coaches that participated in Saturday’s “Drive Out Cancer” tournament pose for a photo. Over $11,000 was raised during the annual event. ERIC MAXIM / THE TIMES RECORD

TOPSHAM

The Mt. Ararat High School girls field hockey team hosted the fourth annual “Drive Out Cancer” Tournament on Saturday at the Mt. Ararat Middle School fields.

Seven teams — Boothbay, Brunswick, Lincoln Academy, Lisbon, Maranacook, Morse and host Mt. Ararat — participated.

This event has transcended the athletic competition on the field to become a social, as well as community event that personalizes the effort to find a cure for cancer. The athletes, the families, fans and friends all have been touched by cancer in some form. Throughout the day, various events gave voice to cancer survivors as well as those less fortunate who have succumb to the ravages of the disease.

Cancer survivors in the audience were acknowledged and several speakers were invited to address the crowd. Mt. Ararat teacher Lianna Fenimore described her battle against cancer as a 12-year old. Three-year old Haley Bradstreet’s cousin, Sydney, described the ordeal that brave Haley has endured in her ongoing battle of fighting cancer, the constant tests, procedures and hospital stays. Haley is at home now and continues to show her resolute determination to beat the disease.

MT. ARARAT’S Paige Witwicki, left, tries to run down Morse’s Olivia Dugan during Saturday’s “Drive Out Cancer” Tournament at Mt. Ararat Middle School. ERIC MAXIM / THE TIMES RECORD

MT. ARARAT’S Paige Witwicki, left, tries to run down Morse’s Olivia Dugan during Saturday’s “Drive Out Cancer” Tournament at Mt. Ararat Middle School. ERIC MAXIM / THE TIMES RECORD

Finally, Madison Arndt’s mother, with Madison and her husband Mitch onlooking, gave an update on Madison’s battle against cancer. Madison, who is almost 4- years old (and was rocking some groovy sunglasses), received the best news possible. She received a diagnosis of NED (No evidence of disease) to a thunderous ovation from the crowd. She was later seen running across the field and jumping into the arms of her dad, who lifted her high overhead with a huge smile on his face.

Mt. Ararat athletes Paige Witwicki and Abby Hagan shared their thoughts from two different viewpoints. Paige is a freshman, participating in her first tournament. She was 10-days old when her older sister, Caitlyn, who was 4, was diagnosed with cancer. Caitlyn was treated successfully at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital and went on to play four years of field hockey for Mt. Ararat. Kaitlin is now attending the University of Maine and is cancer free.

MT. ARARAT HIGH SCHOOL team members prepare to release their balloons on Saturday in Topsham. ERIC MAXIM / THE TIMES RECORD

MT. ARARAT HIGH SCHOOL team members prepare to release their balloons on Saturday in Topsham. ERIC MAXIM / THE TIMES RECORD

This is Abby’s fourth “Drive Out Cancer Tournament” and the importance of the effort became very personal when Abby’s grandmother passed away this week from the dreaded disease.

Understandably, she became emotionally choked up when she tried to express her feelings.

Lisbon senior Peyton Gosselin was participating in her first tournament. Full of poise, she eloquently explained how overwhelmed she was from the community support and spirit of the event that she was experiencing.

Morse’s Lily Thibodeau and Vanessa St. Pierre are both four-year participants in the event. Vanessa stressed the importance of bringing the community together in a common cause and Lily commented on the unity of the players who get to play the game they love while contributing to a worthwhile fight against cancer.

BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL’S Sara Scrapchansky prepares to send a shot on net. ERIC MAXIM / THE TIMES RECORD

BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL’S Sara Scrapchansky prepares to send a shot on net. ERIC MAXIM / THE TIMES RECORD

Brunswick’s Ainsley Harrower, Maggie Folsom and Sara Scrapchansky all spoke of the meaning of the event to them. Ainsley and Maggie are both four-year participants and Scrapchansky was participating in her first year as a field hockey player. Ainsley expressed her excitement to be part of the event and to see all the girls be active in support of the cause.

Maggie, the team captain, also was glad to participate and appreciative of the engagement by her fellow athletes.

Sara, a junior, described the event as eye-opening and was amazed by the level of support the tournament inspired.

There was a balloon release at midfield memorializing the names of victims of cancer.

More than $11,000 was raised in support of the Maine Children’s Cancer Program.

“A big thank you to all the athletes and donors who came out to support this,” said Mt. Ararat coach Krista Chase, who also thanked the volunteers that made the event happen.

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