11-day hockey match will raise money for cancer research

Mike Lesakowski high-fives the players he will spend the next 11 days playing against before his world record bid.

Story highlights

  • Hockey players will participate in a marathon game to raise cancer research money
  • They hope to break record for longest hockey match

(CNN)Mike Lesakowski is in a fight, and 39 other hockey players are piling on. But this is no ordinary hockey game at the HarborCenter in Buffalo, New York. The fight here is against cancer.

The goal is to raise research dollars by playing the longest match on record.
Lesakowski's wife was 35 years old when doctors diagnosed her with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Fortunately, she survived and is now cancer-free -- but several years later, in 2016, Lesakowski lost his mother to the disease.
    That's when the Buffalo native decided to use his longtime hobby to fight cancer. "Hockey was a no-brainer, I was involved with hockey all my life," he told CNN.
    His idea is simple: get sponsors, play the match, and raise funds for the hospital that cared for his wife: The Roswell Park Cancer Institute. "Basically they saved her life," Lesakowski said.
    The current record for the longest game, set by Canadians in 2015, is 250 hours, 3 minutes. That's almost 11 days of nonstop hockey. Lesakowski's match began on June 23, and there's still a long way to go.

    Raising the cash

    Lesakowski reached out to the hospital last October and told them about his plan.
    "...we told them (we were going to raise) $500,000 -- I'm not sure if they believed us, quite frankly," he said.
    But he built up his team, assembling 40 players in all, including "friends and family -- high school, college, pickup hockey players ... that sort of thing," Lesakowski explained.
    He asked each player to raise $5,000 at first. "When he made that quota I was like 'you're crazy, Mike,'" Dave Jickster, one player on the team, recalled.
    But the team's hard work paid off.