Tournament To Raise Funds For Cancer Treatment Exceeds Goals

Tournament To Raise Funds For Cancer Treatment Exceeds Goals

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AMBLER, Pa. -

Playing a weekly game of pick-up hockey means a lot more these days to 34-year-old Phil Spinosa of Ambler.

"I was diagnosed with a tumor, testicular cancer," says Spinosa.

It was a stunning diagnosis to a seemingly healthy young father of two.

"It was a shock. I didn't know. I was just blown away by it," he recalls.

After surgery to remove his tumor and many rounds of chemo, 6 months later, Spinosa got more bad news: his cancer spread.

He lost weight and playing hockey, his passion, was out of the question.

But something remarkable happened after that diagnosis.

"I was sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and I said, 'you know what? I can't pull the cancer out of him, but I can raise money to help pay his medical bills,'" recalls Greg Lombardi, a teammate.

And so, the inaugural "Face Off Against Cancer" hockey tournament was born. It was a 12-team hockey tournament to be held at ice works in Aston, Delaware County.

The team that raises the most money gets to play against the Flyers alumni team. The money goes to help Spinosa pay for mounting medical bills that insurance doesn't cover.

"One person alone, going through chemo, could end up anywhere from 10-15 thousand dollars [in costs,] and that could be devastating for a small, young family," says Ray Kerber, a teammate

"Unfortunately, it does come with a cost. And we need to...we don't have that money, not many people do," says Jackie Spinosa, Phil's wife.

As word spread around the hockey fraternity, so did the donations. "Face Off Against Cancer" shattered a goal of 15,000 dollars. They're now approaching 40,000.

The event has gathered so much steam and raised so much money that these guys are now helping other hockey families in need too.

Now three families are being helped and maybe more. And something else happened. The inspiration of his buddies helped Phil get back in the game as part of his recovery.

"It's great. It's a blast. What I went though the past 3 or 4 months, it's nice to skate and forget about that," says Spinoza as he takes a break from hockey playing.

He now wears jersey number minus one, a little humor in overcoming his battle with testicular surgery.

"The fact we can go out and start it just from friendly skating and hockey playing into this huge foundation. It's only going to get bigger down the road. It's awesome to have that support. I can't ask for anything better," says Spinosa.

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