Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes
Welcome back to this special series featuring the stories of the Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes as they pursue their fitness goals in 2022. You can find all of our Sponsored Athletes’ stories here.
Paul “PJ” Gammarano, Sr., 69, is an ice hockey player, cancer survivor, and advocate for older adult athletes. Get to know PJ here, and read on for an interview about playing his sport for a cause. Then, join us here on Wednesday, November 30 at 3pm EDT for a live discussion with PJ via Zoom!
For the last four years, PJ has made the trip from Staten Island, New York up to Danbury, Connecticut to participate in the “Moustache Classic” charity hockey tournament. We spoke with PJ about his involvement with the event, what it means to him, and what it takes to be an ice hockey goalie as he approaches turning 70.
How did you get involved with this event? Why is the cause important to you?
Tournament founder, Matt Caputo, recruited me (among many others!) to participate in this “Movember” fundraiser for several excellent causes: prostate and testicular cancer research, and men’s suicide prevention. Notably, the NHL and NHLPA (National Hockey League Players Association) have recognized the Moustache Classic event for its leading fundraising status in their “Hockey Fights Cancer” initiative.
— Erik Dobratz (@Erikd25) November 12, 2022
My older brother and distinguished Navy veteran, Peter V. Jr., passed away from prostate cancer back in 2013. He was my mentor, and participating in the tournament is a fitting way to commemorate his great life and accomplishments.
My quest and fight to completely eliminate possible cancer cells is not over.
By the second year of the event, and by sheer coincidence, a very high PSA blood value and other medical tests revealed my own diagnosis of prostate cancer.
A “state-of-the-science” procedure called the Calypso® 4D Localization System™ brought my PSA down to a value of 1, which indicates successful treatment — but my quest and fight to completely eliminate possible cancer cells is not over at present.
How do you prepare to play in the tournament, and in your own weekly hockey games in New York City?
The preparation is in the years of playing time, even before any of the annual events. I have practiced (and still practice!) to develop skillful moves and the necessary stamina to stay energized for the entire length of matches and scrimmages.
I have an off-ice, spine and muscle stretch routine to prevent injury — and of course, a positive mental mindset!
Can you give us a recap of this year’s tournament? What was it like being on the winning team?
Four teams of players from all over the country play each other in a “round-robin” format. The two teams with the winningest records face each other in a final game for the Movember Championship Cup.
It was fun to win of course, but the objective is to have a safe and good time.
The team I was with went into that fourth and final game. Thanks to excellent teamwork (with the always-required strong defense) our team won!
For me, playing in the fourth year of this event, it was fun to win of course — but the objective is to have a safe and good time, which it was throughout the day.
Athletics and Activism
If you’d like to learn more about how you can combine your interest in sports and activities with your passion for making a difference, join PJ on Wednesday, November 30 at 3:00pm EST for a live, virtual presentation — “Athletics and Activism.” Click here for details!
To find free classes focused on advocacy in today’s digital world, visit seniorplanet.org/civic-participation.
In need of a little motivation to get moving? Join our daily health and wellness programs, stay tuned to the latest news and articles from SeniorPlanet.org by signing up for The Orbit weekly newsletter, and follow us on social media (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) to get to know these awe-inspiring athletes. You might just find a new love for fitness along the way!
Photos from Moustache Classic Hockey and Professional Grade Aluminum Corp on Facebook.