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Local girls hockey teams lacing up against Lyme disease this weekend

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Local advocacy group Lyme Western New York is combining girls hockey and Lyme disease awareness in a brand new fundraising event.

The first ever “Ladies Lace Up Against Lyme Disease” kicked off Friday at Harborcenter.

Four girls teams from around the area are playing hockey to raise awareness for the disease and engage in a little friendly competition.

“Both of my daughters are heavily involved in female hockey and we’re like, ‘Well, we spend most of our time on the ice and we spend a lot of our time helping others with Lyme disease,'” said Lyme WNY chair Rebecca Roll. “‘So how can we combine the two things we’re really passionate about?'”

Rebecca and her husband Chuck started Lyme WNY a few years ago after the disease hit close to home.

“My husband was bit by a tick in 2013, never saw the tick, we never knew what was wrong with him and we went through months of uncertainty not knowing what was wrong,” she said.

“I was diagnosed with Lyme disease several years back and I was very sick for many years,” Chuck said. “And it took a long time to get the diagnosis and it was really hard to get treatment. So our goal of creating this group was mainly education, awareness, and prevention because early detection is key.”

Throughout this journey, they’ve found they’re not alone.

“One misconception is that it’s easily diagnosed and it’s easily treated,” Rebecca said. “If you happen to see the tick on you and you happen to get a bullseye rash, which is only a small percentage of the time, we always say consider yourself lucky. Chronic Lyme can go on for the rest of your life. It can completely debilitate you.”

People can learn more about Lyme at the auction tables at the event and try their luck at winning a prize.

Of course, there’s also hockey.

“This year is kinda smaller, it’s just a showcase,” Rebecca said. “We’re really hoping to turn it into a really large tournament, this is kind of like our baby steps to get into something bigger.”

Outside of the event, anyone can attend one of the Lyme WNY meetings.

“We’re here to talk, we have monthly group meetings in West Seneca and I think its surprising how many people show up every month, I mean we could have 50 people in one month,” Chuck said.

The Peace Bridge, City Hall and Niagara Falls will be lit green Friday and Saturday nights for Lyme disease awareness.

The games continue into Saturday and a couple teams from out of town will also be coming to the area to compete against the local teams from WNY.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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