The Carolina Hurricanes will be facing off against the Florida Panthers at the PNC Arena for this year’s annual Hockey Fights Cancer Night. Saturday’s game will be more than just a game.
Going to a hockey game is always an experience. Throughout the season, you will go through the ups and downs from watching the Carolina Hurricanes make a push towards the playoffs, so some games are better than others. The start of the season was an elated time for Hurricanes fans, however, a few losses at home to the New Jersey Devils and most recently the Philadelphia Flyers have left a sour taste in our mouths.
The atmosphere of Hockey Fights Cancer Night feels different. It is a game in which we honor those who are fighting cancer. Like any battle, some will be victorious, while others will not. This night we celebrate all who are battling. Those who are receiving treatment, families and friends supporting love ones, and those who have died from cancer.
Hockey Fights Cancer was founded back in 1998 by Timm Harmon, who began the initiative after being inspired by the story of John Cullen. Cullen, a Tampa Bay Lightning forward was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1997. After his treatment, Cullen attempted to make a NHL comeback. He unfortunately retired after four NHL seasons, but very deservedly won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in the 1998-99 season.
Hockey Fights Cancer was born in Florida, but by December of 1998 it became part of the NHL on the whole. Brian Boyle, Mario Lemieux, and Stelio Mattheos are a few players we can think of who inspire us with their battles with cancer. They all showed us we can be victorious over cancer. Unfortunately, some are not, despite their hard fought battles against the disease. One who I will be honoring this Hockey Fights Cancer Night will be my mother.
Every year the Carolina Hurricanes host Hockey Fights Cancer night, it becomes more and more memorable. There are times I can hear my mother telling me which players she thinks are cute, and scolding players going to “the bad boy box.” I can picture her telling me how much Sebastian Aho or Teuvo Teravainen looks misplaced in the penalty box. It is just a small reminder that of her presence with me. She will be at the game with me. She will be skating on the ice with several Carolina Hurricanes players. Her name will be on in their numbers!
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When I received the email, I replied with my mother’s name. (And yes that is a picture I found of me holding up my “I fight for” Card with her name on it!) I knew there could be a chance her name might not be selected, but eventually it was! I am sending out all my love and support to anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer, or who is currently battling cancer. I stand with you. I cried tears of joy when I saw my mother would be honored.
Please come out to the game Saturday night. Watch the warm-ups and admire those beautiful Hockey Fights Cancer jerseys. Do not just focus on the players names on the back of the jersey, think about all of the names. If you have a loved one on your mind, place their names on the back of the jersey. Remember on Hockey Fights Cancer Night, we all stand as one.