Pee­wee goalie grows locks long for cancer cause

The Peterborough Examiner - - SPORTS - MIKE DAVIES EX­AM­INER SPORTS DI­REC­TOR mdavies@post­media.com

Yianni Kark­oulas is tak­ing hockey hair to a whole new level.

The 12-year-old goalie for the Peter­bor­ough Billy Smith Sells Ma­jor Pee­wee AAA Petes has hair that reaches to his butt. He doesn’t tuck it up dur­ing games ei­ther; it flows freely.

He says op­po­nents have called him a “girl” many times but he has a come­back that quickly shuts them up.

“I just tell them I’m grow­ing it for cancer,” he said, prior to prac­tice at the Ev­in­rude Cen­tre on Wed­nes­day night.

Fol­low­ing the death of his grand­mother Katina Man­tas, his mother Penny’s mom, Yianni, who lives in Bob­cay­geon, started grow­ing his hair. He wanted to do what his fa­ther John Kark­oulas did back then of do­nat­ing his hair to cre­ate wigs for cancer pa­tients who have lost their hair from chemo­ther­apy treat­ment.

Yianni has taken it one step fur­ther team­ing with the Lak­eridge Health Foun­da­tion to cre­ate a fundrais­ing page to col­lect do­na­tions for the Oshawa-based cancer treat­ment cen­tre. The goal of his Hockey Hair Fights Cancer cam­paign is to raise $10,000 at which point he’ll cut his hair. He’s raised $4,580 since start­ing his cam­paign in late Au­gust.

“It’s just a re­ally bad dis­ease,” Yianni said. “This week­end my friend Carter (a for­mer team­mate) got di­ag­nosed with leukemia. That just pushes me even more to raise as much money as I can to help stop the dis­ease.”

John Kark­oulas said he’d lost fam­ily and friends to cancer and when his mother-in-law died, he de­cided to join the fight against cancer.

“I thought I had to try to do some­thing,” he said.

He owns City Wide Taxi which op­er­ates in Durham Re­gion and cre­ated a pink taxi with 20 per cent of its prof­its do­nated to Lak­eridge Health Foun­da­tion.

He’s proud to see his son take such ini­tia­tive fol­low­ing his grand­mother’s death.

“That was his first ex­pe­ri­ence with cancer and he saw what it did to peo­ple and how quickly it can take them,” said John.

His Mi­nor Petes coach Terry Fitzger­ald said Yianni is “a spe­cial guy.” He showed up for his first try­out two years ago wear­ing a Fe­dora with the long hair flow­ing.

“Yianni is a nice, re­fresh­ing kid to be around,” Fitzger­ald said. “He’s a flam­boy­ant guy who likes the at­ten­tion and is a lot of fun.”

Fitzger­ald said he turns heads in ev­ery rink.

“That’s Yianni,” he said. “He’s al­ways got a smile on.”

The day he gets his hair cut will be a big change, Fitzger­ald said.

“We’ll have to look twice to find him I think,” he said.

Yianni says he’s had the sup­port of his team­mates.

“They ’ve been re­ally help­ful and have do­nated,” he said.

“It’s some­thing which touches ev­ery­body,” Fitzger­ald said. “It’s very easy to get be­hind this and he’s the right kid to be lead­ing the charge.”

This is not the first time Yianni has raised money for cancer. He col­lected $7,200 for the Madi­son Classic hockey tour­na­ment in Ajax which raises funds for leukemia.

NOTE: To do­nate to Yianni’s cause visit www.goo.gl/tYPoLT.

CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT/EX­AM­INER

Peter­bor­ough Ma­jor Pee­wee AAA Petes goalie Yianni Kark­oulas, 12, changes into his gear for a team prac­tice on Wed­nes­day at the Ev­in­rude Cen­tre. Kark­oulas has been grow­ing his hair for the past four years for the Cana­dian Cancer So­ci­ety to cut and do­nate to be made into a wig, for some­one less for­tu­nate and un­der­go­ing cancer treat­ment. He has raised $3,960 so far for the cause to­ward a $10,000 goal through the Lak­eridge Health Foun­da­tion's own site.

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