It was a special day nearly a year in the making for five-year-old Leo Knott and his family Saturday at the annual Cops Against Cancer ball hockey fundraiser.

“Nine months ago, when Leo was here, he was going through chemo. Today, he’s back, cancer-free, to drop the ball,” said Const. Dwight Miller of the Cape Breton Regional Police, the organizer of the annual Cops Against Cancer fundraising ball hockey tournament in Glace Bay, NS

Last year, when Leo did the ceremonial opening faceoff at the annual event, he was fighting a rare form of cancer known as Langerhans Cell Hystiocytosis, or LCH. Today, he is in remission.

“It’s really special that they actually asked us to come back again, being cancer-free,” said Holly Knott, Leo’s mother.

“It’s been really tough. He’s completed 26 chemos. He also, because of this type of cancer, he has developed something called diabetes insipidus. So, he’ll probably have that for the rest of his life. But that’s OK, that’s managed with medication every day.

For the first time since the pandemic started, the tournament was back at its original home at the Glace Bay Miners Forum. During COVID-19, it had to be held in a parking lot outdoors.

The event raises money in memory of constables Mark Royal and Tara Morgan. Royal and Morgan were Cape Breton Regional Police officers who lost their lives to cancer while on the force.

“That’s the reason we do this,” Miller said. “The whole purpose of today is for kids like Leo. Just to see him smile and be here helping is great.”

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There was also a special surprise Saturday that nobody was expecting. A custom-made life-sized replica of the Stanley Cup made an appearance and was presented to Leo.

“It touched my heart,” said John Sanipass, who works with the sheriff’s department and purchased the replica cup after meeting Knott at last year’s tournament. “And I said, ‘It’s going to be an annual thing, for anybody who wants to play. This cup’s going to be theirs. It’s not mine, it’s everybody’s for this community.’”

The tournament wrapped up Saturday afternoon.

The event typically raises about $5,000 each year, however, with auction items like a signed Vladimir Guerrero Toronto Blue Jays jersey, organizers are hoping to top that mark this year.

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