The fourth annual Shannon Moralez Memorial Pool Tournament was held in Delta Sept. 14. This marked the fourth year of the tournament, where the proceeds go to help a family (or families) that are going through cancer or any serious illness.
Four families were selected to receive the proceeds from this year's event.
The pool tournament is held in memory of Shannon Moralez, a young man who lost his battle to cancer on Sept. 19, 2009. Shannon had first been diagnosed with leukemia in 2003, but had been in remission for five years until July 2008. For the next 14 months, Shannon was in and out of Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital in Denver. The trips back and forth to Denver for treatment were a hardship not only on him but also on his family. Having found a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant in his sister Staci, he had this procedure done in October 2008. Just as things were looking up, he contracted graft-versus-host disease (also known as GVHD) which affected his intestinal tract as well as other major organs.
His family and the community held a couple of fundraisers to help the family with expenses. Since Shannon was a pool player himself, one of the fundraisers was a pool tournament. He was so appreciative of the tournament that one of his wishes was that his
family continue with the tournaments to help other families going through cancer or any serious illness.
The tournaments to date have raised over $5,300, and since 2010 have helped 10 families, not only from Delta County but from surrounding counties as well. This year's recipients include a family each from Delta, Montrose, Mesa and Moffat counties.
The Delta County recipient, Joe Keating of Hotchkiss, was diagnosed with mouth cancer a little over a year ago. He has undergone three surgeries and has been in remission for over four months. However, he will still require additional surgery. As if the cancer isn't bad enough, he underwent open heart surgery a little over a year ago as well. He has been forced to move in with family members to help with his care. Joe is a former American Pool Players Association member, but because of his illness, he will
never be able to play pool again.
Montrose County recipient Ben Gibson, 13, has a malignant germinoma brain tumor. His cancer is one of only three percent of childhood cancers that are malignant germ cell tumors. Every month Ben has to have an MRI to see if the cancer has spread. In the last 8-9 weeks he has had 42 chemo treatments at Children's Hospital in Denver. Ben will need to continue treatments in Denver which make for long days for him and his family. His parents are Leslie and James Gibson of Montrose; he has four siblings. He will also need to take medication for the rest of his life. Ben is a Bronco fan and was presented with a Broncos jersey when he received his share of the tournament's proceeds. He also received a surprise phone call a few weeks ago from Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.
Moffat County recipient Laura Gonzales of Craig is battling colon and ovarian cancer. She has had three surgeries and continues with treatments. Laura and her husband Dwayne have five children. Laura is a medical assistant, but due to her illnesses and treatments has been unable to work, forcing her husband Dwayne to be the sole provider and caregiver for Laura and their children.
The final recipient hits close to what Shannon went through. Mesa County recipient Brandy Gonzales, formerly from Delta, is battling leukemia. She was first diagnosed in 2012. Like Shannon, her cancer had been in remission until recently. Brandy recently had a bone marrow transplant in Denver. Following the surgery, she will need to stay close to the hospital in Denver and it will be months before she can go back to her three children. For the past three years, Brandy has been in and out of the hospital and unable to work to support her children. She has had to rely on family to help with care, not only for her but for her children as well.
This tournament continues to grow from the first tournament held in 2010 a year after Shannon's death, where $500 was raised and the recipient was a family from Lazear. In the second year, $1,200 was raised to help three families. The third tournament raised $1,450 and the proceeds benefitted two families. This year was the fourth and most successful memorial tournament where $2,200 was raised and the proceeds went to four families. An additional $320 was raised for the Rocky Mountain Cancer Assistance Fund.
These courageous families are an inspiration and helping put a smile on their face, if even for just a moment, makes this event worthwhile.This event relies strictly on donations and this year the family was fortunate to receive generous donations from Delta, Montrose and Mesa counties as well as the Denver area and outside the state. "We cannot thank our supporters enough for their generosity and support," Shannon's family said.
Having lost his own father to cancer just a few weeks prior to this year's tournament, the win was bittersweet for this year's champion. This year's top winners are: reigning champion Mike Mullins of Montrose; Patrick Hayes of Grand Junction, second place; Allen Krill of Montrose, third place; Gary Lanier of Grand Junction, fourth place. The top female went to Delta's Arna Benson. Shannon's cousins Pete Garcia and Nathan Moralez, who run the tournament, made the presentations.
In keeping with Shannon's wish, the memorial pool tournaments will continue. Every September, close to the anniversary of his death, a tournament will be held to raise money to help another family. Since the Rocky Mountain Cancer Treatment Center was the cancer center that treated Shannon, part of the entry fee will continue to be donated to the Rocky Mountain Cancer Assistance foundation (formerly known as Rocky Mountain Cancer Foundation).
"We cannot thank our communities enough!" said Theresa Garcia. "We look forward to their continued support. Please keep in mind that when our volunteers come around asking for donations, we are asking for items that will be used in our raffle or auction. Of course, monetary donations are always accepted and welcomed! We look forward to helping another family next year and hopefully raise more money."
For more information or to make a donation to next year's event, contact Theresa Garcia at (970) 361-8691.
Garcia said Shannon's family hopes to host a horseshoe tournament in May with the proceeds going to help cancer patients. These tournaments are open to the public and everyone is welcome to enjoy family and friends while helping raise money for a worthy cause.blog comments powered by Disqus