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Participants gather for the Pond Hockey Festival on the Rock in 2019. (Dan DeNoble / Pond Hockey Festival on the Rock)

This year’s Pond Hockey Festival on the Rock is hoping to make an impact on the lives of children battling cancer and blood disorders.

The annual festival will be taking over the shores of Ramsey Lake on Jan. 31 with funds raised going towards Camp Quality Northern Ontario. The event has benefited numerous charities over the years.

“We’ve been partnered with Camp Quality before and last year … it went really smoothly,” says Dan DeNoble, the festival organizer. “It was a cause we all felt passionate about, plus it was an organization that we worked well with.”

Camp Quality runs programs for children facing serious illnesses. Since it offers these options at no cost, fundraisers are crucial to its sustainability.

“The efforts of the community with events like this go such a long way to make what we do for this great group of kids possible,” says Danielle Bourgeois-Lapiccirella, director of Camp Quality Northern Ontario. “We are thankful to all those involved with this wonderful event.”

This year’s goal is $30,000 for Camp Quality, all of which will stay local. The festival will see 12 man-made lakes with more than 80 teams expected to participate.

“I think hockey in the north really connects people,” DeNoble says. “Just from being there for a number of years you can really see it’s that one weekend a year where a group that used to play together sees each other, maybe as opponents or on the same team so you kind of see a lot of people connecting on the ice.”

The entirely volunteer-run event first started more than 10 years ago. DeNoble says while Sudbury offers a number of different festivals and events during the summer months, options are fewer in the winter.

“It’s a pretty big undertaking that takes hundreds, probably thousands of volunteer hours to make it possible so it’s a pretty special event. Not many cities can offer what we do in the heart of their city so I think Sudbury should be proud of that.”

The festival will be open to all skill-levels, featuring multiple divisions. There will also be other activities such as face painting and hot air balloon rides.

If you would like more information on registration or details on volunteering you can check their website at pondhockeyonthe rock.ca.