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Lily Polansky, 2, places her hand on the frontal lobe of a human brain model during the Safe Kids Missoula Fair outside of the Community Medical Center. Volunteer, Mitch Taylor, explains to Lily and mother, Layna Polansky that damage to the frontal lobe impairs the ability to think and make decisions.

The Safe Kids Missoula Coalition is inviting residents to spend their Thanksgiving weekend watching hockey and supporting a good cause during its fifth annual Community Cup Hockey Benefit.

Safe Kids Missoula coordinator Dannette Fadness, said the tournament – Friday though Sunday at Glacier Ice Rink – was started by Tim and Tonda Richards of Rocky Mountain Surgical Solutions as a fun way to raise money for health-related causes in Missoula. The sponsorship money raised this year will support the concussion education and awareness efforts by Safe Kids Missoula and the Foundation for Community Health.

The tournament mixes novice, intermediate and advanced players, and is played under what Fadness called “Ty’s Rules” – so named for longtime community leader Ty Robinson.

“Each team has two players from the health care industry, two women and two people age 50 and older. It makes for a more even playing field,” Fadness said.

The tournament is free to attend, with games starting at 7 p.m. Friday and continuing Saturday at 10:45 a.m. Playoffs and the championship game start Sunday at 9 a.m.

Fadness said this year’s tournament includes a sports clinic that will be held from 1:30 until 3 p.m. Saturday. During the clinic, experts will talk with kids about concussion prevention and how to stay safe while participating in sports and other activities.

“Part of what we’re talking about is that winning the game isn’t the most important thing – it’s keeping kids active and preventing those injuries,” Fadness said. “In the U.S., 1.35 million children go to the ER for sports-related injuries every year, that’s one every 25 seconds.”

For the clinic, Safe Kids Missoula partnered with the Dylan Steigers Concussion Project, which is named after a former Sentinel High School football player who died after being injured during an Eastern Oregon University game in 2010. In addition to prizes given out during the clinic, the organization will have a limited number of vouchers that can be used for a free baseline concussion assessment.

“Kids can then go and get a baseline concussion test. You do that before anything happens – that way, if there is an injury they have a baseline to go by,” Fadness said.

The clinic also will have interactive components like special goggles that will give kids the experience of suffering a concussion and gelatin molds of the human brain that illustrate damage that can be caused by an injury.

After the clinic, Fadness said the tournament will hold a community broom ball game at the rink, with anyone who is interested invited to play.

More information about the Community Cup Hockey Benefit can be found online at the Safe Kids Missoula Coalition’s Facebook page.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.