LITTLE CURRENT—The Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) fundraising hockey event held last Friday night for Mustang alumni Connor Croft brought Islanders together from across Manitoulin for a good night of hockey for a great cause.

The fundraiser raised over $10,000 for Connor, who is in need of a kidney transplant.

“Sue (Whynott) called my mom and I to let us know that the fundraiser made $10,000,” Connor told The Expositor on Monday. “It’s pretty amazing—I couldn’t believe that much was raised. I feel very grateful.”

Connor found out last year that he had kidney failure. He now undergoes nine hours of dialysis every day and is in need of a kidney transplant. Efforts are underway to find him a donor.

The idea for the fundraiser came from the boys’ and girls’ Mustang teams who got together and organized a similar fundraiser last year for Cassandra Cristo, a young woman battling cancer. With the support of the coaches and volunteers such as Susan Whynott, the event came to fruition. Due to winter weather, the event was rescheduled for last Friday which meant Connor was unable to attend.

“I wish I could have been there, but it was just too far for us to make the trip again,” said Connor, who is currently living in southern Ontario.

“We’re very sorry we could not have been there to thank everyone in person at the game,” said Connor’s mother Jeanette Mercer. “We would like to thank all the organizers of the event, the people who came out to the games and those who made donations.”

Friday’s event got underway with remarks from Samantha Cooper who spoke about her journey as a living kidney recipient. Her brother gifted her with a kidney.

“All you need to do is get tested and you could save a life,” said Ms. Cooper, urging others to look into being a living donor. “Think about what you could do to help someone else and consider becoming a living donor.”

Carissa Holliday sang O’Canada, followed by a ceremonial puck drop from Ms. Cooper and former NHL player Reggie Leach.

A presentation was also made later in the evening by the Espanola girls’ team who donated $100, which they had raised through a bake sale.

Connor’s grandfather Bruce Mercer thanked everyone who attended, the teams and the organizers and noted Connor’s regrets that he wasn’t able to be there.

The Mustang boys hit the ice first against the Lockerby Vikings.

“The boys were a bit tentative at first, likely due to the size of the huge crowd but they settled in and played a decent game at both ends,” said Mustang boys’ coach Steve Doane. “Overall I think they were pretty happy with the night. It wasn’t our best effort of the season, but they played well enough to win. Our pattern in the last few games has been to give up goals early in the third period and make the game more interesting than it should be, so we will have to work on correcting that for the playoffs.”

“Friday night goals in the 4 to 3 win vs Lockerby went to Jayden Little, Josh Robinson and two by Chris Haner,” added Coach Doane. “Kyle Debassige had three assists with lone assists going to Chris Haner, Nathan Debassige, Jayden Little, Ethan Corbiere and Keegan Clarke. Tyler Hughson got the winning goal.”

“The crowd was incredible and I thought that Given Cortes did a great job with the music,” concluded Coach Doane. “I spoke with Connor’s grandparents and they were clearly overwhelmed with the evening and the love and generosity of this fantastic community.  Samantha Cooper spoke eloquently from the heart, and it is always nice to have Reggie Leach along for the ceremonial face off.  He has done so many over the years and is so relaxed and easy going that it rubs off on everyone else.”

The Mustang girls played a tough game against the Espanola Spartans with a final score of 3-3.

Both 50/50 winners Dwayne Deschamps and Bob Prior donated a portion of their winnings back into the pot for Connor.

Connor said that the donated funds will be put aside for when a donor is found for him.

“We haven’t heard anything,” said Connor of a donor. “They don’t really tell you anything until it is for sure—they don’t want to get my hopes up. The money will be used when I get a call and I need to go to London (Ontario) for the surgery. It will help pay for the hotel as I will need to stay in London after for a few months and other expenses associated with the transplant.”

For more information about Connor and his quest for a kidney, visit the A Kidney For Connor Facebook page.