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CHRIS LESANKO SUPER 7 FALL CLASSIC



Saskatoon Scorpions - 2006 Chris Lesanko Fall Classic Champions!

Fluke changed his future

Murray McCormick

The Leader-Post

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The support that Chris Lesanko has already received becomes obvious after someone walks into his room at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre. The nine lacrosse jerseys hanging from the ceiling are a mix of the ones that Lesanko wore while playing box and field lacrosse as one of Saskatchewan's top players and representing his hometown of Sturgis. The others have been donated and signed by representatives of the National Lacrosse League and Prairie Gold Lacrosse League.

"There are a lot of memories with the Sturgis jerseys and all of the provincial championships that we won,'' said Lesanko, who was paralysed from the chest down on March 24. "Each jersey has a memory and the people behind it who pushed you. You cherish what they did but at the time you don't think about it when they're doing it. When you're lying in bed for so many hours, you start reflecting on the people who have pushed you.''

Lesanko has had opportunities to reflect on the accident that left him paralysed. He was injured at his residence in Lennoxville, Que., where he was in his second year at Bishop's University. Lesanko suffered broken fourth and fifth vertebrae and an incomplete injury to his spinal cord when a lacrosse teammate playfully tossed him into a waterbed. The vertebrae were fused in surgery and he has been left with feeling, but without any movement below his chest.

"You can't put anything on (the teammate) because it was such a fluke accident,'' said Lesanko, 22. "Stuff happens. You have to deal with it and get on with it. You can't put blame on someone, it just makes it worse. It's behind me and I'm looking forward to things in the future.''

The future looks better for Lesanko, who was one of the province's top lacrosse players and had aspirations of playing in the NLL. After the accident, Lesanko didn't have any movement in his right arm and limited movement in his left.

He now has movement in both arms and can move around in a manual wheelchair. He also looking forward to moving into the South Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre (SSILC) on Albert Street in December.

"I wouldn't limit it to one thing,'' Lesanko said when asked about his gradual recovery. "When you're feeling better and you're not sick and therapy is going well, that's when I see the most improvement. My mood has a big thing to do with it.''

Lesanko says the support of his girlfriend, Rebecca German, his family (parents Jack and Faye Lesanko and brothers Scott and Nick), and members of the lacrosse community have also aided in his recovery. The Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association has assisted in organizing a benefit game with funds going to the Chris Lesanko Rehabilitation Fund. Sturgis also organized a benefit softball game. Wrist bands and T-shirts are also available through the SLA. There is some insurance coverage but not enough to look after wheelchairs and other aspects that are going to be part of Lesanko's new life. The fund raising has also helped offset the $25,000 that it cost to fly Lesanko to Regina from Quebec.

Andy Michel, a long-time friend and teammate of Lesanko's, wasn't the surprised that that community has rallied around its fallen player.

"We all grew up in Sturgis and lacrosse was our life there,'' said Michel, who has also set up a Web site (http://andymichel.kicks-ass.net/chris/) to assist in raising funds for Lesanko. "Chris was a phenomenal player and to have something like this happen, it's different. We're all from a small town and that kind of stuff doesn't happen.''

Lesanko has company at the WRC. Miranda Biletski, a 16-year-old swimmer who suffered a broken neck while practicing dives into a pool, is in the room beside Lesanko. Justin Rayner, a 14-year-old hockey player who was rendered a quadrapligic in a game, is also rehabbing at the WRC. The three have become good friends despite the unfortunate circumstances.

"There are so few of us that we always meet,'' Lesanko said. "Miranda and I go wheeling and visit Justin quite a bit. You do what you have to do to keep busy.'' Lesanko is looking forward to moving out his own. He has also bee in contact with a program in San Diego called Project Walk, which is reported to have had good success with spinal cord injuries. Lesanko is also on a waiting list for stem cell replacements at a clinic in Beijing. "Whatever is out there you have try it,''' Lesanko said. "I would rather I do it now than 10 years down the road wonder if I should have gone to Project Walk.''

Those dreams also cost money, as does a new power chair and the other adaptations he will need.

"That has been the toughest thing about this,'' he said. "I've been worrying about the rent, medical stuff and everything else. If there was insurance, I wouldn't have to worry about that. It's always stuck in the back of my mind.''

Lesanko has ventured away from the WRC. The wheelchair allows him to attend movies, go out for dinners, take trips to the park, visit the family farm and attend sporting events. He was a guest of the Saskatchewan Roughriders for their final home game of the CFL season.

"Everything is starting to get easier,'' he said. "The more you do it the more you learn.''

Donations can be made through Chris Lesanko Rehabilitation Fund, Sturgis Credit Union, P.O. Box 238, Sturgis, S0A 4A0. The $5 wristbands and $20 T-shirts are available through the SLA.



TOURNAMENT HELD TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE CHRIS LESANKO REHABILITATION FUND WAS A HUGE SUCCESS!



Tournament Champions (Team White) Roster

Sean Peberdy, Kevin Minaker, Luke Blondeau, Adam Reiser, Ken Stewart, Kevin Bassendowski, Kevin Hall, Curt Keil, Jason Procyshyn, Brad Cameron, Jared Thiessen, Danny Blondeau & Jim Magnaye



The first ever Chris Lesanko Super 7 Fall Classic was held the weekend of September 10-11, 2005 in Regina with over 50 athletes drafted onto 4 teams.  The teams played a full round robin schedule on Saturday with competitive games throughout the day with the following results.

 Team

 Wins

Losses 

Ties 

 Black

2

 White

 1

 Blue

 1

 Grey

 0


Team Black defeated team Grey to advance to the championship game awaiting the winner of the 2nd vs. 3rd place match-up with Team White jumping out to a insurmountable 8-1 halftime lead before coasting to the victory over Team Blue.  Team Grey won their only game of the tournament over Team Blue in a consolation game before Team Black played Team White in the epic match-up between two undefeated teams.  Team White once again came out strong with an early 3-1 lead and then the teams traded goals for much of the game as Team White never trailed winning the Championship with a final score of 11-7.

The tournament and the Saturday night cabaret consisted of many good laughs and drinking games with the tournament raising over $3,000 for the Chris Lesanko Rehabilitation Fund and there is already talk of hosting a Spring Benefit Tournament to build on the success of the Fall Classic Tournament.


As many of you know, Chris Lesanko suffered a spinal cord injury in March, and has been in the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre in Regina since. Chris's ordeal has not only been emotionally exhausting, but financially exhausting as well. Chris' insurance did not cover his injury, as he was not playing lacrosse at the time of the accident. The cost of flying him home to Saskatchewan was $25,000 which was paid for by the family.

Various fundraisers have been set up for Chris, to help pay for living expenses, as well to save towards Chris' goal of attending a private rehabilitation hospital in the US. To help him achieve this goal, t-shirts and wristbands have been made up for sale. The t-shirts are very nice, white with black writing and are available for sale from the SLA office through the clothing link.

(like the yellow armstrong ones) are orange, and say Sticks in #12, selling for $5.00 each.

Through his hard work and diligence, Chris has made serious gains since starting physio, when he was first admitted to Wascana, he had no movement in his right arm, and limited movement in his left arm.

He can now wheel himself in a manual wheelchair, he has regained control of his left wrist, he has movement in his right arm, and his trunk movement is getting stronger each week. I am sure everyone out there can imagine the difference in Chris's future that every little bit of movement would provide. Chris does have plans on finishing his Education degree, but not until all his physical improvements are complete.

Chris Lesanko Background

Chris Lesanko grew up in the small lacrosse hotbed community of Sturgis, Saskatchewan. Chris is the youngest of three brothers that have grown up playing lacrosse. Chris first picked up a stick at the approximate age of 9 and started playing competitively at age 11. He was very fortunate to be coached by Brad Cameron and have his older brothers help him out throughout his years of men’s field lacrosse in Sturgis, which helped him develop into an exceptional lacrosse player. Chris was a major part of many provincial championship teams in Sturgis including at least two Intermediate and three Junior titles. He has been named as a tournament all-star at the last three Junior Men’s Field Provincial Championships and also received an all-star award at an Intermediate Men’s Field Provincial Championship.

Chris has also been quite active on Saskatchewan Lacrosse Provincial Teams including participation on the 1997 Intermediate Men’s Field Provincial Team and 2000, 2001, 2002 Junior Men’s Field Provincial Teams. Chris was a team captain, tournament top scorer and attack position all-star on the 2002 Saskatchewan Junior Men’s Field Provincial Team that captured the national championship for the only time in Saskatchewan lacrosse history. He has also received attack position all-star awards at the Junior Men’s Field National championships in 2000 & 2001. Chris also played on the 2002 Saskatchewan Senior Men’s Field National Championship team that won gold at the tournament played in Lennoxville, Quebec.

Chris is known as a great leader and does not shy away from the physical play involved in field and box lacrosse even though he is small in stature at about 5 "7" and 150+ pounds. He shows a lot of heart in the way he plays lacrosse as hard work and determination are his norm. These attributes along with his quickness, agility and excellent stick skills make Chris an offensive threat whenever he is on the floor or field. Chris was recognized for his positive qualities by receiving the 2000 Russell Slobodian (Athlete of the Year) Award as presented by the Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association.

Chris was also selected as a two-time 1st team all-star in the Prairie Gold Lacrosse League (Junior Box) as the captain for the Yorkton Bulldogs Junior Box Lacrosse Team. He was the top scorer in 2004 and selected as the Prairie Gold Lacrosse League Most Valuable Player leading Yorkton to a 2nd place finish and a hard fought 2-1 championship series loss to the Moose Jaw Mustangs.

Chris actually worked as the Program Coordinator for the Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association for the past two summers and was planning on working again for the SLA again in the summer of 2005 before the accident. Chris helped promote the sport to youth throughout Saskatchewan and also helped coach the men’s field lacrosse provincial teams in 2003 & 2004.

CHRIS LESANKO ANNOUNCED BY BISHOP’S UNIVERSITY AS MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR – APRIL 15/05

Chris has a strong passion for the sport of lacrosse, which has been shown by his willingness to attend a university that has a lacrosse program. Chris spent one year attending Greenmount College in Vermont, USA on a lacrosse scholarship before deciding to spend a year closer to home at the University of Regina. Chris was selected as the Greenmount Eagles team most valuable player. Chris was then recruited to play at Bishop’s University where he has continued to excel and was named Bishops Lacrosse 2003/04 Rookie of the Year.

Chris was named Male Athlete of the Year at Bishop’s University at the Gaiters Annual Awards Banquet held the evening of April 14, 2005, which is the 1st time ever a lacrosse player has won this prestigious award. The voting for the award was actually completed a few days before Chris was injured.

The following is the exert from the Bishop’s University Media Release announcing the award winners:

"Male Athlete of the Year: Chris Lesanko (lacrosse)

Chris was instrumental in the Gaiters' success the last two years as helped lead Bishop's to Eastern division titles and a second place finish in the Ontario University Lacrosse League. This past season he scored 14 goals and 28 assists in just eight league games and was the quarterback of the high-powered Gaiter offense. In his freshman year he received the first of two all- star selections and was team's Rookie of the Year.

The Saskatchewan native came to Bishop's with impressive credentials. He was a two-time all-star with Prairie Gold Lacrosse League and the circuit's Most Valuable Player in 2004. In 2002 he led Saskatchewan Junior Men's Field Provincial Team to a national title.

He also played on the 2002 Saskatchewan Senior Men's Field National Champions making him a national championship winner in Junior & Senior Men's Field Lacrosse in the same year.

"Chris is an outstanding lacrosse player who set up an offense from behind the opposition net, a lot like Gretzky did in hockey," head coach Damien Roy said. "He is a work horse, always in the gym trying to improve himself. His work ethic will be the reason why he will recover from his present neck injury."

CHRIS LESANKO REHABILITATION FUND INITIATED

The Lesanko family is coping very well through this difficult time. However, the family has covered significant expenses not reimbursed by the Saskatchewan or Quebec health care systems such as the air ambulance to get Chris back home closer to his family and friends. This expense alone cost the family approximately $25,000 and has been submitted to the Kinsmen Foundation to be hopefully reimbursed. The family also flew out to Quebec and lived in Quebec for the first week. There is no doubt that there will many other significant expenses for the family as Chris undergoes rehabilitation. It is hoped raising funds for Chris will ensure he receives the best medical treatment available so he can make a full recovery to once again lead a normal and active life.

The Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association has kicked off the start of the fund with a donation of $1,000.

Sturgis Credit Union

A bank account has been set-up at the Sturgis, Saskatchewan Credit Union called the "Chris Lesanko Rehabilitation Fund." The bank will accept contributions by cheque either dropped off at the branch or mailed.

"Chris Lesanko Rehabilitation Fund"

Sturgis Credit Union

P.O. Box 238

Sturgis, SK

S0A 4A0

TD Canada Trust

A bank account has also been set-up at the TD Canada Trust in Preeceville, Saskatchewan under the name Jack Lesanko or Brad Cameron in Trust for Chris Lesanko.  Contributions will be allowed to this account by stopping at any TD Canada Trust branch in Canada. This bank will also allow contributions by cheque made payable to "Jack Lesanko" or "Brad Cameron", by cash or visa.

TD Canada Trust, 24 Main Street, Preeceville, SK. Transit #7496  Phone: (306) 547-3231

 2000 Super 7's League Champions - Generals
Featuring #12 Front Row Centre: Chris Lesanko; Other notables from this dream team include Curt Keil, Corbett& Liam McCabe, Ray Fontaine, Al Luciuk, and David Mitchell.  No wonder this team won the title with this quality of talent!





Captains Chris Lesanko (#12), Jason Beatty & Luke Blondeau accept 2002 Junior Men's Field National Championship Trophy!

 

 

 

 

2001 Junior Men’s Field Nationals All-Star

 

2002 Junior Men’s Provincials Tournament MVP

 

2002 Junior Men’s Field Provincial Team
Captain – National Champions!




Created by: Curt Keil -- Last updated:Sep 18, 2006
 
 

 
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