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A Shot For Life football aims the ball at cancer – Boston Herald

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Shot For Life founder and CEO Mike Slonina, left, on the sidelines with New England Patriots mascot Pat Patriot during a charity flag football game at St. Sebastian’s School in Needham Sunday. (Photo by Mark Stockwell/Boston Herald)

NEEDHAM — In the second year of A Shot For Life Football, Mike Slonina was looking to grow his charitable work.

And growth is what the CEO and founder got.

More players, more teams, more activities and, most importantly, more money were raised for cancer research through MassGeneral Hospital.

All told, A Shot For Life Football has raised approximately $82,000 this year. A year ago, when ASFL Football first started doing it, there was $45,000.

It was a resounding success, whichever way you want to look at it. Slonina now oversees A Shot For Life in football, basketball, baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer and hockey.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Slonina said. “I came from here last year and said football is going to be a monster. It just wouldn’t happen overnight. Today is a very big step, but for Massachusetts it will continue to grow. It’s going to grow beyond just a talent-based event. … We’re building this entire department for A Shot For Life. This is a really big day in the process of doing that.

Barrett Pratt, who played quarterback at Catholic Memorial and now attends West Virginia University, helped bring in the 76 players who made up the five 7-on-7 teams. It featured some of the best talent from the NEPSAC and MIAA.

“It was great,” said Pratt. “I think the growth of year 2 from year 1 has been insane. It involves crediting all the kids on the roster to raise money and exceed the $1,000 goal. The Shot for Life staff are also a great help in involving the children in the interviews and things like that. It was a great experience overall and tremendous growth from year 1.”

Team Cure defeated Team Fight in the championship 21-14. Quarterbacks Peter Bourque of Tabor and Noah Mackenzie of Walpole had strong days. Pingree’s Chris Colby caught a ton of passes from both, and Milton Academy’s Matt Childs was involved in a lot of big plays.

At one point, Childs intercepted a pass and ran to Pat Patriot, who was there part of the day. Childs handed the ball to the mascot, who spiked the ball, and Childs and two teammates fell to the ground.

It was typical of the competitive, yet playful tone the players had throughout.

“It’s amazing,” Childs said of the cause. “To be able to use football as a way to advance cancer research, there is nothing better. Both of my grandparents died of cancer and it means something special to me. I love being here and doing this.”

Quarterback Michael Landolfi played at Lawrence Academy and will be a PWO addition at Boston College. He enjoyed combining it with different teammates.

“I’m competing against some serious rivals, and I’m on the same team with some serious rivals,” Landolfi said. “It’s fun to play with these guys. We play Milton Academy, we prepare all week to stop Ryan Parker. Now we play with him? So it’s pretty awesome.”

Fairhaven’s Justin Marques enjoyed being able to contribute.

“It was definitely fun. It was great to (play)… for cancer research. It’s such a great cause,” Marques said.

“It’s great to raise money knowing it’s going to cancer research,” Bourque said. “It’s great to have the best players in Massachusetts here doing the same thing, for the same cause, and raising all the money.”

Everett’s Christian Zamor is a bit of a veteran, having competed last year. That was played in a heavy rain shower. This year it was a bit cold and windy at times, but still a clear improvement.

“It’s much better. Last year was a blast. Still a lot of fun, just the energy the guys brought, but I don’t mind at all that there’s no rain,” said Zamor. “Me and my team had fun. It’s good. Now that football season is over, it’s good to come out here and just run around with the boys.

Winchester’s Kieran Corr, who will continue his career at Harvard, won the kicking competition, including a 55-yard field goal.

Jasper Johnson of Brooks raised the most of any individual player with $7,000.

“It’s incredible to see it blossoming the way it is now,” Slonina said. “Pat Patriot is coming today. That’s a really big step. But I think we’re always focused on that next step. We’re not exactly resting on our laurels here. Yes, it’s exciting, but I look at this and say, this is going to be great in Connecticut. And this will be great no matter what state we go into next.”