Friday, October 14, 2016

Why We Play

When Tony Conway was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, he decided to make the most of the time he had. He adopted the motto "Don't Shrink" and wrote about his experiences on his blog of the same name. His greatest passions in life were family and soccer, and he jumped at the opportunity to start a soccer tournament designed to combine the two.

The Conway Cup was started as a fundraiser to help Tony and his family by Tony's college coach, Steve Ross. The tournament has been organized and run by the friends Tony made playing soccer, and the college team Tony played on and later coached, at Virginia Military Institute. It became one of the highlights of Tony's year, he enjoyed seeing old friends and familiar faces, but mainly loved watching a great day of soccer. The first year, Tony was able to play in a few games. Two years later, in 2014, he was confined to a motorized wheelchair. In no way did that diminish his involvement or enjoyment of the day, though!

The 2014 Conway Cup was the last Tony attended. He passed away from respiratory failure caused by ALS the day before the Cup was scheduled in February 2015. The 2015 Cup was rescheduled in April of that year. Tony was deeply missed, but the day became a celebration of his life, his impact on everyone around him, and the game he loved the most.

In 2016, the Cup was again held in April. The funds raised that year were donated to local ALS patients and their families, and to The Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins, where Tony attended ALS clinics. The organizers work to continue the tournament in memory of Tony's life and remarkable spirit: to continue to help families living with ALS, to further research and help find a cure for ALS, and to enjoy a day of great soccer in Lexington, VA.