by Susan Mikula Campbell
Wheatfield resident Donald Lauer will be up early Sunday in order to coach a 7 a.m. hockey game at the Northtown Center at Amherst.
The early morning match is part of the 24 Hours of Hockey - Skating for a Cure event to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Breast Cancer Network of Western New York.
"Normally, one would think about sleeping in on Fathers Day morning, but I jumped at the chance, because I love coaching my son and this age group," Lauer said. "Also, the groups that benefit from this event hits close to home with me."
A volunteer with Tri-Community Ambulance and a 30-year member and past chief of Adams Volunteer Fire Company, Lauer knows families who have children with diabetes. He also knew an auxiliary president who died of breast cancer while in her early 30s and has a friend who recently fought and beat breast cancer.
The 24 Hours of Hockey at the Northtown Center, 1615 Amherst Manor Drive, Amherst, will run both Saturday and Sunday with food, drinks and entertainment throughout, plus an auction of sports memorabilia. Highlight is the Buffalo Sabres Alumni vs. ADPRO All-Stars game at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 16. Tickets are $10. Go to www.24hourhockeygamewny.com for more information.
Lauer with team Sharks will be opposed by fellow youth hockey coach Chuck Schmidl of Pendleton, with Team USA in that early morning Fathers Day game, with players ages 6 to 10 from their Hockey Outlet house team, summer league players and other local talent.
Team USA will include: Kelsey Duffy, Justin Bull, Tyler Sweda, Brendan Hahn, Chase Schmidl, Zak Nikitas, Mason Strassburg, Ryan Smith, Vinnie Cairns, Brendon Lauer, Joe Stumpo, Joe Moriella, Charlie Gerken and Blake Dewey.
The Sharks will include: Conner Heer, Conner Heubusch, Alex Strachan, Sean Whitney, Noah Williams, Dominic Lattuca, Caroline May, Tristan Posluszny, Brayden Floreano, Chuckie Schmidl, Bradley Eisenhouer, Kiera Richards, Brenden Dewey and Maxwell Pelino.
The teams will have honorary coaches as well - breast cancer survivor Roberta Woelfel Sherwood and Tyler Sparks, a 10-year-old with type I diabetes. Both are Wheatfield residents.
The teams also have a special member in Kelsey Duffy, who was coached by Lauer and Schmidl last season in a Wheatfield Blades Mite house league.
On June 19, 2010, the first annual Skating for a Cure was held in honor of MacKenzie Duffy of Wheatfield, also a daughter of Joe and Janeen Duffy. MacKenzie has been battling type I diabetes since age 4. That first game was a huge success and raised $11,139, Lauer said, adding that the Duffy family is "a huge part of why we are assembling two teams."
"It's more for raising money than who's going to win or lose. The winners are obviously the two charities," he said.