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Lightning continue to help strike down cancer

Wednesday, 10.28.2009 / 3:55 PM / NHL Community

By John McGourty - NHL.com Staff Writer

"What a magical night, a true feel-good for everyone that gets involved. We appreciate Steve Yerrid for bringing this night back into the Times Forum for the 10th straight year and we are pleased to be able to hold this event in conjunction with the NHL's Hockey Fights Cancer program for 2009-10."
-- Lightning Owner Oren Koules

The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators, two traditionally strong NHL franchises on the rebound from atypical down years, will try to continue their winning ways Thursday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.

The game is the centerpiece of the 10th annual Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night and the concluding event of a week-long joint venture between the Lightning and community leader Steve Yerrid and the Yerrid Foundation that benefits children's causes.

"The contributions of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Lightning players have been one thing -- priceless," Yerrid said. "Children represent the best hope for a better tomorrow. I honestly believe they are the treasures of the world and carry aspirations of what we, right now, couldn't do today. They understand that we care, and they realize that we are standing behind them."

Yerrid said it's important "to help spread the message that courage, strength and love can build bridges to a better tomorrow in the fight against cancer."

More than 4,000 people in the cancer community will be on hand to enjoy the game. More than 30,000 cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, families, doctors, nurses and volunteers have been guests in Tampa Bay Fights Cancer activities over the years. The Yerrid Foundation and the Lightning Foundation have teamed to provide tickets, T-shirts and food vouchers to children from the organizations.

"What a magical night, a true feel-good for everyone that gets involved," Lightning Owner and Governor Oren Koules said. "We appreciate Steve Yerrid for bringing this night back into the Times Forum for the 10th straight year and we are pleased to be able to hold this event in conjunction with the NHL's Hockey Fights Cancer program for 2009-10."

Special guests at the game will be able to sit on the Lightning bench and in the penalty boxes during the pre-game skate and will have a chance to meet the Lightning players. Later, many of them will be guests in the Lightning's TV and radio booths and have the chance to engage in activities on the plaza level.

Four individuals will be designated "Yerrid's Heroes." As in the past, those designated are considered "standouts" in the local cancer community. The organizations this year will recognize an outstanding caregiver, a family member, and two cancer patients.

* Mandy Willis, 8, has been battling Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) since her first birthday. She just completed 18 months of chemotherapy and, as a result, was forced to miss a Lightning preseason event dedicated to pediatric cancer awareness. Her mother says hockey makes Mandy happier than anything else.

* Carli Slack, 17, was struck with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia over a year ago and has been hospitalized since July 2008. One of her parents, Kevin and Edith, or both have been by her side at all times through her fight, which has included several near brushes with death.

* Dr. Michael Nieder is the Director of Blood and Marrow Transplantation at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. Dr. Nieder has devoted his career to pediatric cancer and a protocol that he developed is now in use in 10 American hospitals.

* Linda Loos might have put her fears to rest when her son Michael's congenital heart defect was repaired at age 2. Two years ago, however, Michael, 20, collapsed at a Tampa Rays baseball game and was diagnosed with cancer. He had a relapse earlier this year and received a bone-marrow transplant. The Loos family has benefited from the assistance of the Ronald McDonald Houses in the Tampa area, but other cancer-patient families there have benefited from her wisdom and guidance, as she has reached out often to help others.

The Tampa Bay Fights Cancer games are well known because fans flood the stands in their yellow Yerrid Foundation T-shirts. The shirts are available for sale for $15 and blinking lights, another feature of the games, cost $5.

Fans also can purchase a yellow cup at select concession stands for $6, and that gets fans two ice-cold Pepsi products while supplies last.
"The contributions of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Lightning players have been one thing -- priceless." - Steve Yerrid
Ten local organizations have been sponsored for the Lightning-Senators game: Children's Cancer Center; Children's Dream Fund; All Children's Hospital; Faces of Courage; Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; Moffitt Cancer Center; Pediatric Cancer Foundation; Ronald McDonald House; 1 Voice; and Tampa General Hospital.

In December 1998, the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association announced a joint initiative, Hockey Fights Cancer, to honor those in the hockey community who have struggled, or continue to struggle, with cancer.

Hockey's All-Star Kids Program, an extension of Hockey Fights Cancer, was introduced in October 1999 to link the hockey community with the youngest victims of cancer. As a whole, the NHL and contributing partners have raised more than $10.5 million in support of local cancer-research organizations throughout North America.
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