September 20, 2018

NEIGHBORS NETWORK: Williston couple raises cash for cancer research

Williston residents Kelly and Ryan Curtis will host a charity concert at Nectar's Restaurant in Burlington and a golf tournament at the Williston Golf Club the week before the Oct. 6-7 Catamount Classic lacrosse tournament in Braintree, Mass.

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

From small things, big things one day come.

Williston residents Ryan and Kelly Curtis’ original idea for the Catamount Classic lacrosse tournament was simply to have a fall event where college teams in the Northeast could scrimmage.

That all changed when Collin Shore, a junior on the Ryan Curtis-coached University of Vermont men’s lacrosse team, was diagnosed with cancer in 2007.

“We had talked about putting something small together, and then Collin was diagnosed with cancer, and we kind of watched the whole team come to grips with the reality that cancer can touch anybody at any age,” Kelly Curtis said.

Shore, whose cancer is in full remission today, began a treatment plan at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute during the winter of 2007. The following spring, he played in every UVM lacrosse game and won the 2008 Russell O. Sunderland Memorial Trophy, which is awarded annually to the UVM student-athlete who “throughout their college careers, has demonstrated a high level of athletic achievement and exemplified the qualities of character, leadership and persistence in overcoming obstacles,” according to the award description on the UVM website.

Shore also became the inspiration for the first annual Catamount Classic, subtitled “Lacrosse for a Cure,” which took place in October 2008 at Thayer Academy in Braintree, Mass.

“We had no idea what we were doing, and we had no idea what would happen from there, but we wanted to raise awareness for cancer screening and prevention for young adults,” Kelly Curtis said. “So basically, we ran the tournament and we donated $20,000 to cancer research that year, which we were just blown away by, and we just started getting bigger.”

The inaugural Catamount Classic had eight men’s teams. This year’s tournament, which is set for Oct. 6-7 at Thayer Academy, will feature nine women’s and 21 men’s squads.

Ryan Curtis noted that the charity event, which has raised nearly $130,000 over the past four years, is also a way for college lacrosse teams to get in some much-needed competitive play during the offseason.

“You’re only allowed a certain number of contests per year, per NCAA rules, but one day counts as a contest, so teams can play numerous scrimmages in one day,” he said. “So you can go out at our event and play two or three scrimmages and really get a chance to see all of your guys.”

The Curtises will also host two local events leading up to this year’s lacrosse tourney.

The Vermont Benefit Concert, scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 25 at Nectar’s Restaurant in Burlington, will feature music and karaoke from SuperSounds DJ on the ground floor and live bands upstairs. Tickets for the event, which begins at 7 p.m., are $5 for college students and $8 for adults.

The following Saturday, Sept. 29, Ryan and Kelly Curtis will be at Williston Golf Club for the “Lacrosse on the Links Golf Tournament.” At $360 per foursome, the tournament includes lunch and the chance to win prizes through closest-to-the-pin and longest drive contests.

Proceeds from the lacrosse tournament will be donated to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, while the two Vermont events will benefit the Curtises’ Inspirational Families Program, which offers VIP passes to the 2012 Catamount Classic and monetary gifts to families dealing with the effects of cancer.

“We’ve wanted to do something local for a while now,” Ryan Curtis said. “So we want to branch out a little bit and give the concert and the golf tournament a shot.”

For more information, visit www.catamountclassic.com.

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