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Charity tourney kicked off the fun

This year marked the 50th anniversary for the Canadian-American Days Festival, which celebrates the union between the two nations.

The week launched with the annual Can-Am Cup Soccer Tournament, hosted by the Claire Chapin Epps Family YMCA, which offers opportunities for children and adults to improve quality of life through exercise, teamwork and friendship. The event occurred March 5-6 and saw 72 teams compete in various age groups.

"In the past, we have had Canadian teams, but none this year," said Angela Rabon, membership and marketing director for the YMCA. "We hope to get some in our future tournaments."

This year's tournament featured teams from North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina, but ultimately it's not about where the teams are from. The main goal is to generate revenue for scholarships for underprivileged children within the YMCA.

Rabon believes that the draw of more than 1,200 youths and their families this year is sure to help businesses, hotels and restaurants that are struggling during a traditionally low tourist period. There's also the chance visiting families will stick around for the Can-Am celebration and St. Patrick's Day events. "We'd really like to focus on the fact that we're promoting sports tourism," said Rabon. "We host this tournament during non-peak season to boost business for our local hotels and restaurants. It's one way of giving back to the community."

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