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Laser Tagging for a Cause with Olympic Athletes

The most exceptional part of my weekend was laser tagging for a very worthwhile cause while playing alongside two Olympic athletes. For those who don't know, I lost my brother several years ago to cancer, so when I heard about a laser tag tournament happening in Denver, Colorado to benefit the Doreen Katz Memorial Cancer Foundation I was immediately interested in being part of it. This amazing organization raises money to benefit the children of parents dealing with cancer and is operated by Adam Katz in memory of his late wife Doreen who was from upstate New York, not far from where I live. Obviously the reasons for me wanting to be involved were plentiful from the start. However, it wasn't until right before the tournament that I learned I would be playing laser tag with two Olympians, gold and silver medalist Nick Thoman who would be joining my team as well as two time Olympic swimmer Chloe Sutton.

This was not a tournament in the traditional sense, but it was an amazing evening that began with dinner and drinks set up for about 80 people in the large party room at Gameworks of Denver. I had showed up ahead time to check out the arena.

This site is operating with Gen 7 Laserforce packs...

However, when I called ahead twice to find out about their system both times I was told it was "G Force". I kind of understand the employees' confusion.

In terms of laser tag itself, I was one of the two most knowledgeable attendees. The other, another early arrival, was Josiah from the Loveland Laserforce site.

And as people began to arrive we all sat down for a social hour complete with hors deurves and a delicious catered dinner. I must say this was quite an enjoyable mixer! I sat to eat at a table with the athletes and their significant others, Chrissy and Jake. During the course of the night they took lots of pictures with the kids and their families that were part of the foundation. Nick brought his medals, which everyone enjoyed seeing...including me!

And when it was game time we organized into our teams of four. Our team was made up of Tara, Joe, Nick and me.

Now, as I mentioned, this was not a typical tournament. In fact by the end it was really more social fun than anything else. It began with five teams of four going into the arena. Nick is a gamer so he wanted to know all the tips I could share about how to do well with tag. Because of our tag experience Josiah and I ended up being more like de facto coaches to some of the players. In fact, we were being referred to by everyone (including the Olympians) as the "professional laser tag players". Now, it was only last week that I was reminding one of the guys at my home site that he should really not go around telling people he is a "professional laser tag player" because there is no such thing...but if these players want to call me that in this context I will happily wear it as a badge of honor in this setting. :)

During most tournaments I would be acutely aware of scores (and to be honest, yeah, I was watching the boards here too), so I know that my team was on top all night, but about midway through it really stopped being about anything but having a good time. There were some kids involved and most of the players here were not regular laser tag players, so we mixed up the team line-ups and balanced things out, both to make sure everyone had a good time and to compensate when players had to call it a night.

Before leaving Chloe signed a photo for me (and in hindsight I should have asked for Nick's autograph, but by the end of the evening we were just chatting on a friendly basis so that thought flew right out of my head).

After the Olympians had said their goodbyes for the night we played the final round with the last three teams remaining (somewhat reconfigured by this point) and I was pleased with the end result. :) I was all the more pleased that everyone agreed that the honors for the night should go to the last of the kids still participating in the end, so congratulations to this young man for playing so well throughout the night!

And big thanks to Adam and the foundation volunteers who give so much time and energy to raising funds in support of so many families dealing with cancer.

I know personally the pain of losing a loved one to cancer and I am heartened to see this organization focusing on what they can do for the children of families facing it. This was a tremendous event. Playing laser tag with Olympians was just the icing on the cake for me. I truly believe that Doreen must be looking down and smiling at the good work being done for families in her name.

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