WAPPINGERS FALLS – There are two sides to every story, but when the story is about cancer, the saga becomes three sided; a medical war between doctors and the disease, the personal fight of the afflicted, and the effect it has on the surrounding loved ones.
When long time referee and umpire Hank Boldrin, Sr was first diagnosed in July of 2014, three wars began; Hank’s personal fight with stage four Lymphoma, his family’s battle to keep Hank’s spirits up, and the doctor’s efforts to help Hank beat the system.
“You know, many people who first hear that they have cancer turn inward, thinking they have to engage in this internal battle with the disease”, said son Hank Boldrin, Jr. “It was our job to help bring our father outward, to show him that he wasn’t going to go through this alone” Hank Jr, along with his brother and sister, became part of his army.
Hank Sr, has a 53 year career as an area referee and umpire. He has officiated everything from modified basketball to college games, and was even selected to be part of the elite group of officials
“I think being in shape helped me get through this”, said Boldrin Sr., who is now cancer free. “I was running the equivalent of six miles with each game I officiated, and I was doing three games a week.”
Thanks to the great shape Hank was in, doctors at Vassar hospital and Westchester Medical Center were able to try methods that have a less than 30% success rate. Because this 78 year old was in such good shape, he was able to handle the rigors of the five chemical injections he was getting.
“We are so blessed to still have him around”, said Hank Jr. The guys at IAABO have been great, calling to check up on him and send well wishes and prayers. Hearing from them made a big difference in my father’s outlook. People have been great”. Hank Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps, and had been a referee for 42 years. “Early on, my father took me along and said, ‘Let me show you how to make some spending money while you’re in college, and have a lot of fun doing it'”.
Stories like this is why the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials decided to create the Officials vs Cancer tournament five years ago. It is a two weekend tournament fund raiser, pairing up area high school basketball teams, to raise money for referees stricken with the disease.
Kevin O’Connor, a cancer survivor himself, and Bob DeRicco got this effort jump started after a similar tournament (the Red Fox Shootout) was discontinued.
To date, the Officials vs Cancer tournament has raised over $40,000 thanks to sponsors, fans, and each of the participating referees donating their officiating fees during the tournament. The money goes to the American Cancer Society for research, awareness, and support.
The final leg of the tournament takes place Saturday Feb 4th at Falcon Hall on the campus of Dutchess Community College. Arlington vs FDR gets things started at 12:30pm, followed by Red Hook and Hudson, Poughkeepsie vs Kingston, Ketcham vs Yorktown, and New Paltz against Goshen.