Snoccer brings challenges all its own

LAKEVILLE — The first time for an event can be the toughest, but the elements may have provided an even tougher obstacle to Newton Park’s Snoccer event this weekend.
“We had people asking us if we knew how tough it was to kick a ball in the snow — especially when it just stopped right where you kicked it,” said Irish Saunders of Hoosier Tire, one of the event’s organizers. “We ended up cutting down the time for a half to 15 minutes because it was so tough, but everybody had a great time and it was a great event.”
The snow soccer tournament was put together as a fund raiser to help with the cost of medical treatment for Saunders’ son, Eric. One of the top motocross racers in the world, Eric was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident while training and continues to need medical treatment and rehabilitation.
“I can only hope that this never happens to anybody,” said Saunders. “I’ve worked for 30 years at Hoosier (Tire). Eric’s mom and I are 50; we had a little money in the bank, looking at retirement and this happened. Just Eric’s room at the hospital was $386,000. His rehabilitation cost so far is $280,000. As a parent, you do whatever you have to for your family without any question, but it does take a toll.”
Those costs continue to mount and the family continues to find ways to try to meet them. The struggle has led Eric and his father to think about a way they can help others in the same predicament.
“We’ve considered it and talked to some others about it and we are going to start a foundation to raise money to help other families who have spinal cord injuries,” he said. “I can’t afford to send Eric to some of the places that he could go to rehab and we’re trying to do the best we can on our own. We want to help other families that are going through the same thing.”
Meanwhile, 15 teams vied for the snoccer title Saturday in the first of what will be many snoccer weekends.
“Everybody was talking about how we can make it bigger and better next year,” said Saunders. “We’re not sure of the date but it will probably be about the same time next year.
“If I could thank everybody that helped us you would probably need another section to the newspaper, but I really want to say a special thanks to Bob and Joyce Newton and Marge Newton for all they’ve done, and Chris Millican and Nancy Paulk who helped put all this together.”