At 12:01 p.m. on Oct. 7, Wild Rose MP Blake Richards blew a whistle, bringing to an end 42 hours and one minute of five-a-side soccer.
I was on the substitutes bench as the shrill note went up and everyone in the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC) erupted into a cheer. The celebrations began with the players hugging and giving high fives, as facility manager Robin Mitchell called together the two teams and introduced Michael Empric, the Guinness World Record adjudicator. Michael congratulated all involved and announced that a new record had officially been set.
The previous October, I had contacted Robin and bounced off him the idea of attempting to break the 40 hour record, held by a team in the United States. He loved it and soon we had Lucy from Cochrane Rangers, Ally from Cochrane Minor Soccer and Cynthia from the centre on board.
Work progressed over the winter and spring and Robin recruited TriOil Resources as the title sponsor. The fundraising target was $25,000. In June, Cochrane Minor Soccer held a tournament and raised $5,000. At around the same time the ‘Ton of Pennies’ fundraiser was born.
Three Cochrane musketeers, Dan Kroffat, Alex Baum and Cochrane Eagle publisher Jack Tennant came up with the idea of collecting one ton of pennies and Cochrane and the surrounding area ran with it. On Sept 29, 2,900 pounds had been collected, taken to ATB Financial in a chuckwagon, guarded by a cowboy posse and members of the RCMP. Due to the generosity of Cochranites, in donating their pennies, at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 5, on the turf at SLSFSC, a cheque for $6,100 was presented to representatives of Right To Play.
Players were: Daran Fletcher, Cecily Woolrich, Jason Smith, Denean Thorsen, Sherry Grund, Dena Sykes, Dee Dee Cook; Matt Wiacek, Andy Harris, David Savage, Rochelle Nydokus, Caitlin Smid, Maria Perkovic, Kira Alston and Ellen Anderson Penno and myself. Special mention to Terry Norman, who couldn’t play because of an injury.
Lucy Lovelock, with help from Sarah and Julie had dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s so that everything ran like clockwork. Volunteers turned up at the appointed time, the appropriate paperwork was satisfactorily completed and the required video evidence was recorded.
Almost two days and the final whistle, all 16 warriors emerged from battle. Injuries and fatigue took their toll but no one had quit. But it’s true to say we were all winners. A Guinness World Record has come to Cochrane and over 2,600 children have been given the gift of a Right To Play program for one year.