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Black Tie Blue Jackets a "truly special" event

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

On and off the ice, the Columbus Blue Jackets are more than just a hockey team. It’s a family.

Those who attended and participated in the 12th Black Tie Blue Jackets style show last night were witness to just that: the organization, the community, its partners, friends, players and coaches coming together to support the signature cause of the Blue Jackets Foundation – the fight against pediatric cancer.

Every year, the style show marries a fun night out and unique experience with the organization’s charity-driven initiatives with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which has been a leader in the battle against pediatric cancer, a cause that receives very little of the dollars raised for cancer research.

Nine pediatric cancer heroes took part in the style show this year and got to strut their stuff on the runway alongside Blue Jackets players and their wives and girlfriends, and there are no details skipped over. There’s a rehearsal, a cocktail hour, dinner, silent auction, live auction, a series of guests who speak to the audience and the runway show caps it off.

For Blue Jackets players young and old, it’s an experience they look forward to every year for one single reason: to see the smiles on the heroes’ faces as they fight a battle that truly embodies the definition of courage.

“It’s an awesome event and we’re all so lucky to be part of it and support the kids in their fight,” Matt Calvert told “It’s great to walk with them, get to meet them and see the smiles and how excited they are. How they can have fun and have such a positive attitude while going through hell like that is truly special, and we’re fortunate to be able to enjoy the experience with them.”

While the style show is a fundraiser, the Blue Jackets and Jen Bowden, executive director of the foundation, did not expect what turned out to be a record-setting dollar figure.

It humbles you. It’s great to see the kids, and the strength and courage they have with their situation and what they deal with on a daily basis. - Todd Richards

Though final numbers have yet to be tallied, at the end of last night’s show, over $300,000 had been raised solely by Black Tie Blue Jackets – the most in the event’s 12-year history.

“That’s unbelievable,” Calvert said. “Every penny counts for these kids.”

In the sport and business of hockey, sometimes it’s far too easy to become engulfed by the day-to-day, head coach Todd Richards said. When you’re able to sit back and take in an event like Black Tie Blue Jackets that unifies so many people in support of a cause, there’s a perspective that registers with everyone.

The Blue Jackets players, coaches and management are no different, he said, and he was thrilled to be in attendance for a second consecutive year.

“I was really looking forward to it this year because last year, I didn’t really know what to expect,” Richards said. “It was everything I thought or hoped it would be. It really puts things in perspective. After games, we’re worried about a loss and you worry about what you’re going to do lineup-wise…and sometimes you’re worried about your job.

"We saw them in a great moment; I don’t get a chance to see them in their treatments and when things are really hard. But it was a great, great event and I was just happy to be there.”

The show, presented this year by Capital Style and Kelly BMW, carried the message “Brighten The Journey,” signifying the purpose of the event and putting smiles on the faces of the heroes as they push forward in their fight.

It was impossible not to feel the energy in Nationwide Arena. Everyone was together, rallying around the heroes and smiling right along with them.

Like a family.


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