BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW
Justin Peroni was a caring, generous kid who loved to play hockey and have fun.
His remarkable spirit lives on through his equally generous parents Paula and Dennis, who stepped up to help their community, Coniston, by creating the Justin Peroni Memorial Hockey Tournament.
Justin was killed in a traffic accident in September of 2002 in Wahnapitae. He was 13.
The idea to create the tournament to raise funds for the Justin Peroni Hockey Bursary was easy.
"Justin loved to have fun and make people laugh," said Paula. "We thought it would be important to bring that into a houseleague hockey tournament. Justin also had a generous heart.
"Any proceeds from the tournament go towards helping kids in the community who are less fortunate and can't play hockey. Hockey is expensive these days, and the proceeds will make sure that if anyone needs assistance, the money will be there."
Dennis knows this kind gesture is putting a big smile on his son's face.
"Justin is doing this himself through us," said Dennis. "He's been the whole inspiration behind it. Justin's memory is generosity, and this keeps that memory alive."
The tournament will run from Jan. 13 to 16, 2005, and will feature peewee, bantam and midget houseleague teams from across Northern Ontario.
There are still spots available. Teams have until Dec. 15 to register. Interested teams can email Dennis at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The four-day tournament is being organized and designed with fun in mind for kids and parents alike.
On the Friday, there will be a bonfire, outdoor skating party and barbecue.
"It will be a carnival-type atmosphere," said Dennis.
On the Saturday, there will be a social and dance at the Colonial Inn in Coniston, along with a silent auction.
Both events are free of charge and everyone from the community is welcome to attend.
On the Sunday, the championship games will be played. Every team and player participating will receive an award for being involved in the tournament.
"The response has been overwhelming," said Paula about teams looking to play. "It's a wonderful thing. The community as a whole has rallied behind
this and jumped on board."
Terry Gobbo, president of the Coniston Minor Hockey Association (CMHA), is proud of the Peroni's efforts, and remembers Justin fondly.
"I was the trainer on Justin's team when the accident happened," said Gobbo. "Justin was a very happy child. He always had funny comments and was the type of kid everybody wanted to coach.
"This tournament compliments what Coniston Minor Hockey stands for. It's definitely a good way to keep Justin's spirit alive. It's a benefit to Justin and the association by bringing more awareness to minor hockey in Coniston."
Paula and Dennis have one other son, Tyler, 12.