Lacing up for a good cause – in memory of a legend
Stephanie Scarpato started playing hockey when she was five years old and went on to become a standout player during her four years at Colby College. Throughout it all, her father, vascular surgeon Robert Scarpato, MD was one of her biggest supporters. He and her mother, Janet, traveled more than four hours from Cape Cod to Maine to attend all of her home games during her senior year.
Her father was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in 2011, so, when Scarpato decided to create a fundraiser to raise money for research to find a cure for the disease, a hockey tournament seemed like a natural choice.
“Two of the biggest influences in my life were my dad and hockey,” she said. “I had a good base community on the Cape with hockey. I’ve been a coach on the Cape and when I was growing up some of my best friends are from playing hockey, so I figured it would be a great way to honor my dad and the community that I had.”
The second annual Face-Off against ALS Hockey Tournament will take place Friday through Sunday, September 15-17, at the Falmouth Ice Arena on Technology Park Drive in East Falmouth. Sixteen teams of men and women will compete in three-versus-three games. There are six teams in the men’s B division, six teams in the women’s B division and four teams in the women’s C division.
Each team paid a $500 registration fee to participate. The tournament is open to the public for free, but there will be a donation box and a raffle to raise more money.
All proceeds will be donated to ALS Therapy Development Institute in Cambridge, a non-profit biotech research group dedicated to slowing the disease’s progression and finding a cure. Last year the Face-Off Against ALS Hockey Tournament raised $10,300 towards that cause, and Scarpato hopes to top that number this year.
Hyannis cardiologist Lawrence McAuliffe, MD, of Cape Cod Healthcare Cardiovascular Center is helping her spread the word. Dr. McAuliffe was a partner in a cardiac group with Dr. Scarpato for many years.
“Not only is it a good cause that everybody can recognize, but there is also this personal connection with Bob Scarpato who was just a legend as a great surgeon, but beyond that he was a great individual,” Dr. McAuliffe said. “Bob was one of these people that you could not find a single person who didn’t hold him in the highest regard.”
When Dr. Scarpato was first diagnosed, he continued working for as long as he could, Dr. McAuliffe said. When he was unable to continue working as a vascular surgeon he became a mentor to other doctors in the field.
“My dad’s experience was a very slow progression compared to a great many others,” Scarpato said. “He always said how lucky he was because he would go into the hospital and see 20- or 30-year-old people in much worse condition.”
Dr. Scarpato passed away on May 14, 2017, but he got to see his daughter’s team win last year’s tournament.
“We got to lift the warrior’s cup in front of him and he was right there on the bench with us. That was cool,” said Scarpato.
The tournament has a Facebook page for anyone who wants more information. If people can’t attend to watch a game or two, they can still donate online.