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Playing for a Purpose

At the April 18th meeting the State Board of Education presented a community service award to Jenna and Kelly Freitas for their role in “Playing for a Purpose” a Memorial High School field hockey team tournament fundraiser for cancer research.

In August 2011, an inspirational fundraiser was organized by my twin sister and I. It's purpose was to raise money to benefit the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. The idea was inspired by our mother. The summer of 2010, she had found out that the melanoma she had beaten eight years ago, had metastasized in her chest. Instead of letting this situation take a toll on our family, we stayed strong and wanted to raise more awareness for skin cancer. The idea was very simple, take our high schools annual four team field hockey jamboree, and use it to raise money for cancer research and our growing field hockey program.

Kelly and I always wanted to do something more and give back to our community, and this one idea was the start of a chain reaction we never even expected. When proposing the idea to our mother, she had a better thought in expanding our fundraiser. Raising awareness for just one type of cancer wasn't enough. There are so many other types that we don't often hear about, and including more types would benefit more cancer patients

My sister and I thought about the idea and how just four teams could participate in a fundraiser for multiple types of cancer. We simply did not have enough teams for all the different types of cancer! We took the passion we have for field hockey and used it to raise awareness for not only one, but twelve types of cancer. Our event involved twelve different high school teams from throughout the state of New Hampshire. Each team represented not their school, but a type of cancer for the day, wearing that color instead of their normal school colors. So instead of our team sporting our usual red, white, and blue attire, we wore black for the cancer my mother was battling (Melanoma). My sister and I called the event "Playing for a Purpose." Our team was able to raise over $10,000; Sixty percent proceeds were donated to the Cancer Center.

Throughout the day, teams played half field games and participated in multiple contests and competitions. Between games were unique bonding experiences between all the teams. At one point a small dancing circle turned into a huge participation dance amongst all twelve teams. A sea of color, red, green, blue, yellow, swarmed in the middle of the Memorial High School field. What was so inspiring about this was the continued spirit the jamboree brought into regular season of field hockey. When we played Keene, a team who participated in the event, an intense overtime •resulted in Memorial coming out on top. Keene disregarded the score and forgot about their loss, coming up to the Memorial players immediately following handshakes. The girls requested to do the dance again, and we spent a cold Wednesday night laughing and dancing together.

We not only raised money that day, we raised awareness, and for that our family and field hockey program are proud. It was incredible to see what one small thought had started. Every team was not in it for their own benefit, they were in it to help with the fight against cancer. We raised hope for those who lost loved ones to cancer, those who are survivors and those who are STILL battling, like our mother. We learned that our leadership and passion is contagious. Many people left that field that day inspired to do something more, to give back. This jamboree had brought so much passion into our team's hearts.

We were able to continue the fundraiser well after the event had ended. We asked each team that had participated in our fund raiser, to donate one dollar for every goal scored during their season to the Cancer Center. At the end of our season, Manchester Memorial High School had scored a total of thirty-nine goals, the most goals in our schools history. Our team was able to make it all the way to the championship game this year, a first ever for our schools field hockey team. Even though we lost in the championship game, we were grateful for what we had done as a team and how far we had gone. An idea my sister and I had changed the lives of so many. We will never forget the event, and tradition our school was able to start for our state and field hockey program, and the impact we have had on The Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

New Hampshire Department of Education
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Telephone: (603) 271-3494 | TDD Access: Relay NH 711