Hockey tournament raises money for pancreatic cancer research

Organizer lost wife to quickly-spreading disease

SHAWNEE, Kan. - Goalies usually get upset when the puck gets past them. Bob Klem couldn't be happier. Although his Red Rockets saw that happen a lot during a friendly match, it was OK.

He organized this game to benefit pancreatic cancer research. The life-long hockey player started the games after he watched the disease take his wife.

"My oldest daughter, Rachel, said we needed to do something to honor Mom, and the purple tape on my sticks came about," Klem said.

That was in 2007. The next year, a friend suggested having a benefit game. Since then, they've raised nearly $50,000. His daughters say this has grown far past what they expected.

"Even more than the money, the sense of community and the sense of doing something that has a purpose," daughter Rachel Klem said.

"I think it's great to see everybody in the community come together and want to play," his younger daughter Sarah Klem said. "I've heard players' kids say they want to play in it when they're older, like little kids."

Pancreatic cancer often grows with no symptoms, so it's often at an advanced stage when it's finally discovered. Becky was diagnosed in August 1997 and died just three months later. Their daughters, Rachel and Sarah, were 12 and 8.

These games have a second, much more personal goal for Bob.

"When Becky was sick, her biggest fear was that the girls would forget her, and by doing this we keep her memory alive," Klem said. "Every time I do it, I just go 'Wow,' you know, and then at 2 o'clock this afternoon when I realize what we've done, it's like, 'When's the next one?'"

Bob doesn't care what the score is, since he knows who's winning in the end.

You can learn more about the Have a Skate With Bob Foundation at www.skatewithbob.com .

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