SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis if a life changing moment for anyone, but it can be especially hard to hear for athletes. But for one hockey player from Pennsylvania, her 2005 diagnosis spurred on the creation of a massive charity hockey tournament.
Hockey Fights MS is now in its 11th year in Candice Arnold's new home state of Vermont. Arnold was a hockey player growing up, and after her diagnosis, wanted to find a way to help fight the disease.
The tournament started in 2005 in Pennsylvania with seven teams, and it has grown enormously since then. About 850 players representing more than 60 teams from Quebec to Virginia have converged on the area for the weekend. The tournament has men's, women's, and co-ed divisions and has grown so large that it takes six rinks from Burlington to Stowe to play it.
Proceeds from the tournament benefit the M.S. center at UVM Medical center, and Arnold says it means so much to her to see the hockey community joining together for the cause.
"On a personal level, it's kind of overwhelming," Arnold said. "In the beginning, I just did this as sort of a coping mechanism and to just feel like I was doing something. Just to see how big this has grown, I think about where we are now and where we were in the very beginning. It's just kind of amazing that it's had that much of an impact on other people because it wasn't initially intended to be this big but I think it's awesome that it got this way."
The tournament continues through the weekend.