Hockey, without question, was Ross MacNeill's favorite sport.
The 11-year-old from Wheaton got on the ice for the first time at age 4.
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Two years later, he was playing on his first hockey team in Glen Ellyn. He remained on an Admirals Hockey Club team until a few months before his death last May -- even as he went through treatments for pediatric brain cancer.
"He loved hockey," said his mother, Kim MacNeill. "He loved playing hockey. He loved his teammates. It's a brotherhood that is very tight, very loyal, very genuine."
A few months after Ross died, his family created the Ross K. MacNeill Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness and funding for research to end pediatric brain cancer.
They knew doing something in Ross' name involving hockey was a must.
On Saturday, June 7, the foundation is hosting the first Ross K. MacNeill Memorial Hockey Tournament from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Center Ice of DuPage in Glen Ellyn in memory of Ross. His family hopes it will become an annual event.
"It's a very personal event because hockey has been such an important part of our son's life," Kim said. "We're thrilled to have the support, but I would also say we're not surprised. The hockey community is very tightknit."
Kim said the tournament -- which will feature three 20-minute 3-on-3 games between teams with seven to 10 players -- is open to any hockey player, and not just from the Admirals.
"This is something that our son represented. No one is excluded. Ross really reached out to include everybody," Kim said.
More than 100 players have already registered for the event. Due to the popularity, the foundation is asking anyone interested in participating to register soon.
Registration is available at www.r33m.org. The cost is $100.33 per player, with the 33 cents being a nod to the number of MacNeill's hockey jersey.
That number will be retired during the tournament and there will be 33 seconds of silence, said Melissa Orozco, a publicity committee volunteer for the foundation.
Orozco's son played hockey with Ross. She said all the boys on the team were "very close."
"All of this has inspired me more than, I think, I've been inspired by anything else in my life," she said of the family's efforts to end pediatric brain cancer. "I can't think of a better way to spend my time."
Organizers say some other highlights of the tournament include a skills competition, a family skate and unique, hockey-related raffles, including Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Wolves items. There will also be off-ice games and an outdoor picnic after the tournament.
"It's going to be a fun day for the whole family," Orozco said.
About $14,000 was raised for the foundation in March during a dodgeball tournament at Franklin Middle School, where Ross would have been a sixth-grader this year.
His mother said she hopes the support the foundation will receive at the hockey tournament will be "equally as successful" -- and not just in terms of money raised.
"It raised awareness, it gathered the community together for something fun and it allowed so many people to be involved and to participate in doing something for a great cause," Kim said of the dodgeball event. "Those are the things, we think, that made it successful."