The lacrosse community in Maricopa County is tight-knit in that it goes above and beyond to help one other, even rivals on the field.
An idea about a preseason tournament between clubs turned into something more. One coach, who has a long history in the area's lacrosse community, saw the coaches and teams he would play against come out in support of his family.
When Mike Wein's son, Brady, was diagnosed with leukemia three years ago, just before the inaugural Lax4Life lacrosse tournament, Desert Vista High School lacrosse coach Dan Lannon decided to make it a little more meaningful.
"With Christmas coming up, we wanted to make it a little more special for their family," Lannon said.
That first year they raised $1,200 for the Weins. Last year, they had 40 teams and raised $2,500. The amount they raised also reflects the fact they did not have to pay the referee fees in full because they were donated.
This year, the fourth year, they expect anywhere from 35 to 40 teams, from junior varsity, varsity, middle school and even two college teams to come and play, and each pays an entrance fee.
The proceeds for this year's event will be split between the Weins and another family also going through a tough time.
"It's beautiful that we can help out another family, but it stinks because that means another person got sick," Mike Wein said. "We are going back and forth to New York City eight or nine times in the next few months so everything we get goes to hotel bills, airline flights and everything that gets us back and forth."
Brady has been an inspiration to the players in the tournament, Lannon said.
"They know what the Weins are going through and want to do what they can to help," he said.
Wein helps coach Brady's Bunch, a club team with players from 10 different states and Canada. Wein said his role since his son has been diagnosed is different than it once was.
"I'm just the face of the team, but like I tell the kids I don't have a lot of time to coach lacrosse," he said. "But I do have time to coach life lessons."
The Lax4Life tournament takes place Saturday at Discovery Park in Gilbert, starting at 8 a.m. To find out more, or to read Brady's story, visit www. bradysbunchlacrosse.com or www.caringbridge.org/visit/babybrady.
• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or firstname.lastname@example.org