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BEHIND THE SCENES: Another inspiring Jack Lyons Memorial Tournament

BayToday's Chris Dawson takes us behind the scenes

In each “Behind the Scenes” segment, Village Media's Scott Sexsmith sits down with one of our local journalists to talk about the story behind the story.

These interviews are designed to help you better understand how our community-based reporters gather the information that lands in your local news feed. You can find more Behind the Scenes from reporter across Ontario here

Today's spotlight is on BayToday's Chris Dawson, whose story "Another inspiring Jack Lyons Memorial Tournament" was published on Mar. 22.

Below is the full story, in case you missed it.

It had the vibe of an East-West hockey game, but perhaps the Jack Lyons Memorial Hockey Tournament was just a little bit more special. 

"This is a fun-filled spirited event, with about 2,000 students that are going to be loud and having fun today," said Craig Nodwell, event organizer and student success teacher at Chippewa Secondary School.

"It is a little different from East-West in a sense that not all the other schools are here, and there is no organized two-minute cheer, but in terms of the energy in the building it is as wild and as loud as East-West ever was." 

Jack Lyons lived with autism and sadly passed away on April 24, 2022. 

He was a huge hockey fan.  

For the second year in a row, a group of students from Chippewa teamed up with the Lyons family and One Kids Place to coordinate an inspiring hockey tournament with a very worthy cause. 

Mark Lyons, who was with his daughter Hannah (West Ferris student) and wife Lesley (a teacher at West Ferris) did a ceremonial puck drop in front of the East-West-like crowd cheering on the teams and celebrating the inaugural event. 

Jenna Wilson, one of the student organizers was a friend of Jack's.  She was also one of the students who came up with the idea for a tournament in Jack' name last spring. 

"Jack would absolutely love it, having all the elementary schools here that he belonged to, having One Kids Place here, the North Bay North Stars, and all the other schools that he went to as well as where his mom and sister go to, Jack would absolutely love this, as well as having our North Bay Battalion here," she said. 

The event included nine local elementary and secondary schools all connected to the Chippewa and West Ferris family in the Near North School Board. 

In East-West like fashion, the day involved multiple games starting off with the North Bay North Stars special hockey team going up against the Near North All-Stars, a grade-7 co-ed game between Chippewa and West Ferris, a girls Chippewa vs West Ferris game, and finished off with a boys game between West Ferris and Chippewa.  

The first event was impressive and raised close to $15,000 that will go towards One Kids Place Autism summer camps. 

Mark Lyons, Jack's father, was amazed to see how the event grew going into only its second year.  

"The event is well organized, the whole staff has done an incredible job bringing all the schools together and bringing it back to One Kids Place to help out with the programs with Jack Lyons Autism Camps," said Lyons.

"It is paramount for those families and it keeps his legacy going for us and gives us going with the stress of losing a child." 

See related: It means the moon to us

By the end of the day, Nodwell believed the event gathered close to 3,000 supporters. 

That's a big win.  

"This whole event is built on three pillars, with the first one being remembering Jack and that is the most important thing with our organizing crew," explained Nodwell.  

"Autism awareness and raising money for summer camps at One Kids Place is our second pillar. Our third pillar is to provide a spirited fun-filled event for grades 5, 6 7, 8 and some high school kids for the Near North Board." 

Student organizers like Jackson Boal understand the significance of the event they organized. 

"It really does help the individuals that utilize One Kids Place all the time, just for an example the funds go directly to Jack Lyons summer camps and what they are designed to do is give some of the people with special needs a routine during the summer because they lose that during the summer when there is no school and i think that is incredible and I personally want to be a teacher, and helping all these kids, and seeing the impact it is just amazing," he said. 

Nodwell says the students will add up all the funds raised and have a final tally in a few weeks.