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Jack Lyons memorial hockey tournament honours late teen with autism

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The legacy of a late North Bay teen with autism lives on as the second annual memorial hockey tournament raises funds for local support services.

Photos from the annual Jack Lyons Memorial Hockey Exhibition in North Bay

The one-day tournament, the Jack Lyons Memorial Hockey Exhibition, raised money for One Kids Place’s autism support services in North Bay and area on Thursday.

Jack Lyons was a student at Chippewa Secondary School who tragically passed away in April 2022 at the age of 17.

His family continues to advocate for autism awareness services, in his honour as a way of remembering him.

"It’s an honour to play in this tournament and for such a good cause," said Chippewa student Hunter Pizzali.

The arena stands were packed with fans, including students from Chippewa and West Ferris Secondary School.

As the puck dropped the crowd cheered.

Photos from the annual Jack Lyons Memorial Hockey Exhibition in North Bay

"It just overwhelms me to hear what’s here," said Lyon’s father Mark.

"It feels like a Battalion playoff game. To support Jack is just amazing."

Jack was very active in fat biking and he loved hockey.

He played for the North Bay North Stars hockey team, a program for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Photos from the annual Jack Lyons Memorial Hockey Exhibition in North Bay

"There’s no events like this in Sudbury or Kitchener," Lyons said.

"I’m getting calls all over to say 'how do we do it?'"

The school organized this one-day hockey exhibition with competing West Ferris and the North Stars, facing off for a few fun games.

"Our first pillar is to remember Jack and the person he was," said Chippewa Secondary School teacher Craig Nodwell.

"The second pillar is to raise awareness and some funds for autism."

Nodwell worked with returning Grade 13 student Jenna Wilson to put the tournament together.

She was close friends with Lyons.

"We went to school together and I did a placement in his classroom," Wilson said.

"Jack was always funny. He was always pulling jokes and pulling pranks in class."

Around 2,000 students attended the games.

Photos from the annual Jack Lyons Memorial Hockey Exhibition in North Bay

Photos from the annual Jack Lyons Memorial Hockey Exhibition in North Bay

Last year, the memorial exhibition collected $15,000 in donations.

All of the money raised will go to One Kids Place to support its autism summer program for between 50-60 kids.

The donations allow these kids to attend the camps free of charge.

"Each week is themed," One Kids Place volunteer coordinator Jesse Reid said.

"This year we have a great STEM camp running. We’ll be working on robotics and hopefully we can go check out some really great places in the community."

The Lyons family said it’s honoured to carry on their son’s legacy to ensure children with autism have the supports they need and to do that with the students in the stands cheering on for the game Jack loved to watch and play.

"It’s people in the community that give back and keep that momentum," Mark Lyons said. 

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