Officiating for a Cure - WLA Refs Take Action Against Cancer
VANCOUVER - The Western Lacrosse Association (WLA), its teams and its officials are coming together to support a cancer-awareness month in support of official Riley Lo who is courageously battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Lo, 29, is a Vancouver-based official who stepped away from on-floor duties this season while going through treatment for lymphoma. With his support, the officials’ group - championed by senior official Cam Comeau and referee in chief Nick Thomas - have banded together to help create conversations about cancer, the importance of early detection, and the need to raise funds to support cancer-related charities.
With 'Officiating for a Cure', a joint initiative between the WLA and its officials, the hope is to bring awareness to the many forms of cancer that affect people in the lacrosse community and beyond.
"Our aim is to also generate financial support for Riley in the process and have honest conversations about all of those of us who have had cancer impact the lives of our friends, of our families, and of our community," Comeau said. "We are in this together to help rally support for Riley who is doing well in his battle with cancer right now. We miss him on the floor and are banding together off the floor to give him all our support."
Lo, who recently reached the two-third milestone of his treatment plan, said he is grateful for the support from his fellow officials' family and the league.
"I'm so grateful for all the support. Any time we can shed some light on this and help those who hear the word 'cancer', you want to find ways to help raise awareness and provide support," Lo said. "This initiative is so important. Cancer doesn't just affect our parents and our grandparents, it is impacting people from all walks of life, people from all ages. It is unfortunately likely we will all know someone or encounter this in our immediate family circles as well. Whatever we can do to bring some awareness we should do together."
The WLA officials and BC Lacrosse Officials Technical Support Group (BCLOTSG) are also challenging all senior officials in the province to donate the first game fee of July to a cancer charity of their choice. To support Riley specifically, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/officiating-for-a-cure.
"Our officials approached us with this initiative, and working with X-treme Threads, we're happy to provide pink jerseys for the officials to wear in support of Riley in this journey," said WLA commissioner, Paul Dal Monte. "By increasing awareness and raising funds toward finding a cure for cancer, we're able to support Riley in his journey."
Referees in the league will wear the pink jersey throughout the month of July to help spur conversations and encourage donations. The league will also be providing in-game broadcast mentions and PA announcements to raise awareness.
"The WLA's generous support in providing funding for our jerseys is going a very long way to making this vision a reality and helping an innumerable amount of people," Comeau added. "It will help us carry the torch to help secure funding for the important research toward a cure and for patient treatment. We do this in support of Riley and in honour of those we've lost in our lives to cancer who would want to see us continue to battle together."
Lo is a long-time member of the BCLOTSG and while he is unable to help on floor, he has been a major contributor off-floor through the 2023 box season, serving as a mentor and evaluator. He will be the referee-in-chief for the upcoming MacDonald Cup Junior B, Tier 2, Western Canadian championship being held in Port Coquitlam in August.
"Riley is such an important part of our family of referees that form a tight-knit community on and off the floor," said WLA referee-in-chief Nick Thomas. "His contributions to the game of lacrosse and to the officiating family in B.C. continue even though he is currently not on the floor with us this season."
Comeau is proud of how the officials group and WLA have come together to support one of their own.
"Riley's a first-class person and former paramedic who was tasked with helping people daily in challenging situations," Comeau said. "Now it's our turn to help Riley continue to face his challenges, and others fighting cancer. Please consider a donation in support of Riley through July."