PORT ALICE—Rory Bondue left Port Alice Arena Saturday night without his hair.
At least he had a choice in the matter.
Bondue and fellow local hockey players drew a large portion of town to the arena for the annual Bob Bailey Memorial Hockey game, and in the process raised about $2,600 to benefit a young family dealing with an untimely cancer diagnosis.
Bondue raised about $800 of the total in a raffle for the privilege of shaving his long, blond locks. He sat in a chair at centre ice as teammate Mark Preston and Michelle Cliff wielded the clippers. Afterward, he stepped off the ice to embrace 25-year-old Matty Senciw, who has been traveling between Port Alice and Victoria for the past three weeks for cancer treatment.
“I think it’s amazing,” Senciw said of the community response. “It makes you proud to be from Port Alice. The town really comes together to help each other.”
The Bob Bailey Memorial has always contributed proceeds to benefit a local need. This year, it was an easy call for Jason Holmes and other organizers to choose Matty and Katie Senciw, who grew up in the community and who have two young children, including a new baby girl.
“The money raised will help cover travel costs and hopefully allow them to have Christmas together,” said Russell Murray, one of Senciw’s Neucel Islander’s teammates.
Money was collected through a donation canister at the door, a 50/50 draw and Bondue’s head shave.
On the ice, the town’s players — ranging from old-timers to at least one current secondary school student — put on an energetic and entertaining show. When the ‘White’ team threatened to run away with the game, the scoreboard was reset to show a tie and the teams went toe-to-toe down the stretch, with Blue and White each scoring goals in the final 12.7 seconds to finish in a 5-5 “tie”.
Players then posed for a large group photo before making way for Bondue, who put two large plastic sheets over the centre circle and placed a chair before sitting down to his public haircut.
“It feels weird,” he said, rubbing a hand over the thin layer of stubble in the tunnel afterward. He then turned to Senciw.
“I know you’d do it for us,” Bondue said.
“Absolutely,” Senciw replied.