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2009 E-Lacrosse Feature: The World's Longest Running Lacrosse Game

York, Pa., just a short drive up I-83, will be hosting the World's Longest Running Lacrosse Game this Saturday, including more than 400 lacrosse players as a fundraiser for great causes and as a remembrance of one of their own, Travis Sipe, a young man who died in 2004 after a long struggle with injuries sustained in a 2001 car accident. This is the fourth annual iteration of this event. The first was actually held to raise money for Travis' needs. The "Take it to the Goal…#14" fundraiser in 2003 raised more than $7,000, which enabled Travis to receive a customized wheel chair and transportation to a number of lacrosse games that spring.

Travis never spoke again, but would attend games holding a stick and watching. After Travis' death, the event was continued to honor his memory and to raise money for charities in his name. The recipient now is the Make-a-Wish foundation and this year it is to grant the wish of a 15 year-old from Redline, Pa., with bone cancer.

I spoke to Bob Rhein, who runs the Eastern York Knights lacrosse club, only one of the 14 programs which now exist in York County, serving more than 1,300 boys in the county fielding 52 boys youth teams. He was Travis' coach back when only one club team operated in York. Travis was one of the founding members of the club and played with kids much older than him when the program started in 1996. By 2001, Travis was a star sophomore, scoring five goals and adding an assist in a game on the very day of his accident.

Rhein played his college lacrosse at Bucknell (class of 1985) for Syd Jamieson, the legendary coach who still stays involved in the game in many ways. One of those ways is in support of America Supporting Americans, an organization that matches up sports teams with adopted military units. Bucknell was one of the first lacrosse teams that participated in the program, sending care packages and letters of support to the troops overseas. There are now more than 50 lacrosse teams with adopted military units. One of those is Rhein's Eastern York club. His under-13 team will be volunteering at the event tomorrow to raise money and items (listed below) for support of the 10th Mountain Sustainment unit.

The original tournament was started at 7:14 in the morning and every "period" of the 17-hour game started on the 14th minute of the hour in honor of Travis' jersey number 14. This year the tournament will be held in Lancaster, Pa., on a multiple-field venue. Each of the "games" will be played on the hour, but stopped at the 14th minute for a timeout and moment of silence for Travis.

Some of the coaches that have teams in this year's event actually played with Travis back in 1996 and were also the original kids who supported the first event to raise money for Travis as college players.

Spectators can donate to the cause and also bring items for the 10th Mountain Sustainment unit in support of the Eastern York team's mission. Those items include Gold Bond powder (or Z-Absorb Powder), chapstick (with SPF), sunscreen, shaving items, lotion, eye drops, toothpaste, breath mints, (Altoids), cotton swabs, soap or body wash, shampoo, sewing kits, baby wipes, handy wipes, Kleenex (pocket size), writing tablets and journals, pens, pencils, crossword puzzles, playing cards, dice, travel-sized board games, magazines, comic books, paperback books, disposable cameras, international phone cards, sports sections of newspaper, CDs and CD cases, current movies on DVD, sunglasses, cotton socks, swim goggles, small footballs, candy bars, gum, prepackaged snacks, powdered drink mixes, Lifesavers and hard candy, instant coffee, sunflower seeds, dried fruits and nuts, trail mix, tabasco sauce, hot pepper sauce and beef jerky. These are the things that soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot easily acquire. Those products are vital to their quality of life under the hardest of circumstances.

You can also contribute in your own way to the support mission or the Make-a-Wish goal by contacting Bob at brhein@pennair.com.

Bob sent out the information below to all of the participants. Feel free to make the short drive up to watch or help out.

There are several objectives that I hope to accomplish with the event on Saturday. They are:

Fun: This event is to be fun for all those involved starting from the one organizing it (that would be me), to the players, coaches, officials, parents and all the guests who may be attending throughout the day. Please make sure that you enjoy the day.

Safe: This event continues to be an annual event and we look to host it each year in early- to mid-March. With the spring season games about to start, I would like all 400+ participants to walk off the field healthy and ready for outdoor games in April.

Awareness: The sport of lacrosse is growing faster than any other sport in the area. Thanks to this event, lacrosse will receive a very positive response from the York County community. With the success of this event, a strong message will be sent back to all the schools letting them know that we have a lot of boys and families playing and doing great things in our community to help make a difference. The PIAA and the YAIAA will also see that we are doing a very positive thing in our community.

Financial: There are many ways to make a difference during your time at Lanco Fieldhouse. In addition to each player paying their registration fee of $20, we will have:

MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION: The Make-A-Wish Foundation is an international non-profit organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Through the Penn-Air & Hydraulics Foundation, a check will be presented to Ann Waltman, Regional Manager of M-A-W to support the wish of a local boy. Thanks to the anticipated participation (400+ players), we will be able to support the wish of a local family. We are proud to be able to help this wonderful organization. We will present the check to M-A-W at the conclusion of the Eastern U-13 game. Please understand that the hard economic times impacts everyone, including M-A-W. With corporate donations being cut back, our support is more critical than ever.

America Supporting Americans: The Eastern York Knights are involved in a number of community related events this spring. ASA is a program that the Bucknell men's lacrosse team joined a few years ago as the first lacrosse team with now more than 50 teams participating. We are proud and honored to be a part of it. The Knights have adopted the 10th Sustainment Brigade out of Fort Drum, N.Y. The Brigade's logo is proudly attached to each of our player's helmets.

March 10, 2009
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