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Davidge family, friends continue cancer fight with charity dinner

NBC analyst Eddie Olczyk gave moving keynote speech about battling colon cancer; event raised more than $50,000 for research.

by Brian Hedger @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

The fight against cancer is ingrained in Bill Davidge, four years after being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma.

His cancer is nearly 18 months into remission now, after a bone-marrow transplant in 2015, but the Blue Jackets' studio analyst for Fox Sports Ohio remains passionate about the ongoing battle against all types of cancer.

It's literally in his bones.

"My cancer, you can't cure," said Davidge, who played hockey at Ohio State and coached at Miami Ohio before embarking on careers as a pro scout and broadcaster. "There is no cure for it yet. We can stay in remission, and I've been in remission for almost a year and a half, but it's a cancer like leukemia. It starts in your blood and then goes into your bones. If it gets into your organs, there's not a whole lot they can do. Right now, it's in my bones."

Every two months, Davidge has the cancerous spots checked. Eventually, he could need another bone-marrow transplant, which will come from excess taken during his first procedure in 2015 at The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC).

"I've got three lesions," he said. "They're not very big, but there are three lesions they're trying to keep in control."

Every two months, Davidge gets a personal reminder that his fight isn't over. Every two months, his family - including wife, Jayna, sons Rob and Willy, and daughter Miranda - get that same message.

It's why they remain so driven to help him battle and why they want to help others too. It's also why last week's "Hockey and Hope" charity dinner held at Brookside Golf and Country Club, was so successful.

The dinner, presented by the Davidge family and friends, included a charitable auction and speeches by Davidge, NBC analyst Eddie Olczyk, Sue Zazon, president of Huntington Bank's Central Ohio region, and Blue Jackets assistant coach Brad Larsen - who was presented with the Davidge Family Community Inspiration Award for overcoming two different types of cancer.

Fox Sports Ohio's Dave Maetzold emceed, while former Ohio State football player Jeff Logan oversaw the charity auction. Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson also attended, as did Boston Bruins center Sean Kuraly, Winnipeg Jets forward Jack Roslovic and forward Trent Vogelhuber - who all played for the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets program and for Miami in college.

Also representing Miami were Senior Associate Athletic Director Steve Cady - the head hockey coach at the school when Davidge was an assistant in the 1980s - and Enrico Blasi, the Redhawks' current coach.

According to Davidge, early estimates showed the event raised "around $54,000," which included roughly $22,000 from the charitable auction along with donations from individuals and businesses across the Columbus area - including the Blue Jackets Foundation.

Zazon spoke about her battle overcoming breast cancer, while Olczyk - NBC's main NHL analyst - gave the keynote speech, talking about his fight the past year to put stage 3 colon cancer into remission.

"In the spring, I went to Eddie, who's a very good friend, and said, 'You know what, Ed, if it all works out with your health, would you be willing to come in?'" Davidge said. "He said, 'Billy, I'll do anything for you. Just let me know the day.' So, we teamed up with Eddie … and you know what day it was? It was his birthday."

When Olczyk, 52, showed up, there was a birthday cake waiting for him. When he left, there were a lot of reddened eyes in the room.

"Eddie talked for probably 40 minutes and there wasn't a dry eye in the whole place, not even himself," Davidge said. "He told it like it was - what he was feeling, what he went through, what it meant to his family and the importance of his spouse. He's a special guy."

Davidge's eyes were also watery, both during and after Olczyk's speech.

"I cried all the way home," he said. "When you look at the support that you have and the friends going way back to my college days all the way to today, the commonality is family, faith and friends. Those friends come from hockey to university life to business to everyday life. It was special for everybody."

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