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Defeating Cancer: A Football Initiative for Life

In the second edition of A Shot For Life Football, Mike Slonina aimed for expansion in the philanthropic initiative. And indeed, growth manifested significantly for the CEO and founder. The event saw an increase in the number of players, teams, activities, and most notably, funds generated for cancer research at MassGeneral Hospital. This year, A Shot For Life Football amassed approximately \(82,000 compared to \)45,000 in its inaugural year.

The progress achieved was undeniably remarkable. Slonina now leads A Shot For Life across various sports including football, basketball, baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, and hockey. Expressing his enthusiasm, Slonina stated, “I was convinced after the last edition that football would make a substantial impact. While it wasn’t an overnight success, today marks a significant advancement. The vision extends beyond Massachusetts, evolving into more than just a talent-centric event. We are laying the foundation for a comprehensive A Shot For Life program. Today signifies a pivotal moment in this journey.”

Barrett Pratt, a former quarterback at Catholic Memorial now attending West Virginia University, played a key role in recruiting the 76 players forming the five 7-on-7 teams. The event showcased top talent from NEPSAC and MIAA. Pratt commended the exponential growth from the first year, attributing it to the dedication of the players in fundraising, supported by the efforts of the Shot for Life staff in facilitating interviews and other activities.

In the championship match, Team Cure emerged victorious over Team Fight with a score of 21-14. Quarterbacks Peter Bourque from Tabor and Noah Mackenzie from Walpole delivered standout performances. Chris Colby of Pingree caught numerous passes, while Matt Childs of Milton Academy made significant contributions throughout the game.

The atmosphere was a blend of competitiveness and camaraderie, exemplified when Childs intercepted a pass, interacted with Pat Patriot, and engaged in a playful celebration with teammates. Reflecting on the cause, Childs shared, “Using football as a platform to support cancer research holds great significance. Having lost both my grandparents to cancer, this initiative is deeply personal to me. I find purpose in participating and contributing.”

The players, including Michael Landolfi from Lawrence Academy and soon-to-be Boston College addition, appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with different teammates, even those who were once rivals. Justin Marques from Fairhaven echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the enjoyment of playing for such a meaningful cause.

The event also featured a kicking competition, won by Kieran Corr from Winchester, who will continue his football journey at Harvard. Jasper Johnson from Brooks stood out as the top individual fundraiser, collecting an impressive $7,000.

Looking ahead, Slonina expressed his excitement for the future expansion of A Shot For Life, envisioning its impact in other states beyond Massachusetts. The event’s growth and success serve as a testament to its potential for broader reach and influence.