WATERVILLE — Skowhegan senior goalie Leah Kruse knows better than anyone that field hockey and life-threatening illnesses don’t usually mix. She also knows better than most what the sport can do to help sick people get better.

That’s why Kruse, who missed much of last season after her appendix ruptured not once but twice, was so excited to be at Thomas College for her third Battle for Breast Cancer, an annual fundraiser for the Martha B. Webber Breast Care Center.

“I had appendicitis all last summer. I was here playing last year and I didn’t even know it. I was so sick last year and it was so hot,” said Kruse, who had extra reason to celebrate because Saturday was her 17th birthday. “It’s extremely special to come back this year healthy.”

Kruse and her Skowhegan teammates were among eight high school and three middle school teams taking part in the event, which had games being played simultaneously on Thomas’ twin fields throughout the afternoon.

Participating teams raised money through solicitations and by setting up concession booths around the fields selling hamburgers, hot dogs, whoopie pies and other food.

In addition to raising money, teams are invited to tour the Webber Breast Care Center at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, where they learn about mammograms and breast cancer treatment.

Kruse took the tour with the Skowhegan team for the third year in a row this week.

“Number one it’s special because you’re doing it with your team, and it’s important that we go as a family,” she said. “We’re learning so much as we go through this. It’s just a game of field hockey but it turns into so much more.”

One in eight women and one in 100 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, hospital volunteer Liz Richards said. Many of them have to make a difficult choice between paying for treatment or paying for their rent, or paying for a mammogram or buying groceries to feed their families.

“It’s about teaching about breast health, but it’s also about women who are working who either have no insurance or are under-insured,” she said.

Last year, Battle for Breast Cancer funds helped 105 patients pay for mammograms or treatment for breast cancer. Richards said she has heard from women who said they wouldn’t have had a mammogram and/or treatment if not for the money the event raises helping them with out-of-pocket expenses.

“To be able to take away a little bit of that anxiety is just so valuable,” Richards said. “We’re sure to pass that on to the girls, that what they’re doing is important.”

Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty organized the first Battle for Breast Cancer five years ago. In the past four years, the event has raised over $80,000 and Doughty said it would go over the $100,000 mark after Saturday.

“The first year, we had four teams and I was hoping we’d make $1,000,” she said. “We were at Colby College and it was 110 degrees and we made $10,000 that year. We were shocked.”

Saturday’s mild temperatures were much more suitable for field hockey and players enjoyed getting a chance to bond during emotional opening and closing ceremonies and by visiting each other’s booths.

“Even though it’s a competitive atmosphere, like always when you play, there’s a different feeling because it’s about raising money, playing together as a big group of girls,” Mount View coach Gloria Hewett said.

• • •

The Maine Majestix under-19 team wrapped up play at the National Club Field Hockey Championship by splitting their final two games.

The Majestix, a Waterville-based club team, lost to the Howard Stampede of Maryland, 3-2, then went on to defeat the Gaels of Maryland in a shootout.

Maine trailed the second game, 5-3, before tying it with two goals in the final three minutes. In the shootout, Emily Hogan, Haley Lowell, Ally Corbett and Riley Field, all of Messalonskee, converted on Maine’s first four attempts. Delaney Wood, of Winslow, stopped two of the Gaels four shots to get the win.

Hogan, Corbett, Kylie Nelson, Victoria Newbill and Katriona Hajduk scored in regulation for Maine.

Randy Whitehouse – 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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