"It was the most grueling thing I have ever done, and the most rewarding," says Peter J. Merlo '88. He's referring to the recent 11 Day Power Play event at Buffalo's HarborCenter which set a Guinness World Record for the longest hockey game ever played. Merlo was one of the 40 players (20 per team) who competed in the 11-day continuous hockey game that lasted over 250 hours. The event raised money for Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
In 2006, Merlo was told he might never play hockey again. He had health problems and was struggling to find the cause. Finally, he was diagnosed with a golf ball size brain tumor between his brain stem and cerebellum. He had surgery to remove the tumor. Fortunately, it was benign, but the recovery was difficult. "In August 2006 I had Gamma Knife Radiation at Roswell to irradiate the piece of tumor remaining. I now visit Roswell every two years for my MRI and checkup," says Merlo, "Roswell does God's work. From my surgeon Dr. Fenstermaker, his staff, the nurses and attendants, everyone associated with Roswell Park was excellent."
"Roswell saved my life," declares Merlo. When his recovery was going better than expected, the doctor told Merlo he might be able to play hockey again after all. Fast forward to 2017, with Merlo in good health, the 11 Day Power Play became the perfect opportunity for him to give back to Roswell. "I am an extremely blessed and lucky person. I also am a better person after going through this experience as I realized how precious life is and that it should not be wasted worrying about the little things. We need to enjoy every moment and live life to the fullest."
Merlo's classmate, Mike Lawley '88, also competed in the 11 Day Power Play. The event raised $1.2 million for cancer research.
Peter Merlo '88 (left) with two of his 11 Day Power Play teammates.