The third annual Cancer Sucks Cup was held Tuesday in Nova Scotia’s Pictou County to honour Oliver Graham, a little boy who lost his battle with the disease in June 2010.

That Christmas, Graham’s parents decided they wanted to hold a hockey tournament to raise money for the IWK Health Centre and Ronald McDonald House.

“Those were the two places that really helped us out,” says event organizer Drew Graham. “We realized we can’t pay it back, so we can only pay it forward, and this is the way we do it.”

The event consists of three teams from Drew’s workplace – Michelin – and one made up of family friends.

New toys are donated and money is raised to buy gas cards for families travelling to the children’s health centre in Halifax.

“This is the best therapy money can buy,” says Drew. “It’s better, you know what I mean. I come out here, we do the tournament, or I pay, you know, a couple of hundred dollars every week in therapy. This is the way I remember my son. I keep him in my heart and we keep him living.” 

One family travelled all the way from Saint John for the tournament.

Scott Nordstrom’s son, Riley, became friends with Oliver during his stay at the IWK.        

“There were times that Riley was isolated to his room and Oliver was next door, so they would play between the windows with each other,” says Nordstrom.

“I think about it and I always try to score goals for him and all of my other friends,” says Riley.

There are players of all different sizes and shapes in the tournament, but their reasons for taking part are all the same.

“Support a great cause and a great family and we’re having a good time doing it, raising lots of money for the IWK,” says player Brian Haines.

Last year, more than $4,000 was raised for the cause.

The tournament trophy was a special gift from students at the Nova Scotia Community College in Stellarton.

“We have a Thomas Train on it, because Oliver’s biggest love, even more than hockey, was trains. Yeah, to me, it’s the Stanley Cup,” says Drew.

Gas cards will be purchased, toys will be bundled up, and the Grahams will make a special visit to the IWK to drop off the donations before Christmas.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh