Shortly after practice Monday at Nationwide Arena, the Blue Jackets and Stinger headed out on one of their favorite trips each season.
When their bus, the Fox Sports Ohio Blue Jackets Fan Express, parked at Nationwide Children's Hospital, players piled out wearing lavender jerseys that will also be worn during warmups Friday, when the Blue Jackets host the Winnipeg Jets on Hockey Fights Cancer Night.
The Jackets also carried Boich Courage Kits with them, containing doll-size replicas of Stinger, baseball hats from the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation's Hats for Heroes program and a Blue Jackets' pennant.
Inside, awaiting their arrival, were patients and their families, who receive a visit like this from the Blue Jackets each year as a therapeutic distraction.
"We're just going around room to room, [visiting] people that want to be seen, and maybe get their spirits picked up a bit," forward Zac Dalpe said. "Unfortunately, I've been in that room on the other side, with my mom. So, I appreciate the people that are in there, and if we can come in and change their day in any way, that's what we're here to do."
That's exactly what they did, sharing time with the kids and their families, signing autographs, handing out the gift bags and posing for pictures. Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones even played a game of Uno with some patients.
This kind of trip changes a player's day, too.
"They're all adorable and make you smile, and It just makes your day," Dalpe said. "It humbles you, and it makes you feel like you're doing something, and that's what the point is. We just wanted to come and maybe get their minds off whatever it is they're dealing with for about 15 minutes, and if we could give them a prize or a little doll, that's what we wanted to do. I think we did that."
READ: BLUE JACKETS TO PRESENT HOCKEY FIGHTS CANCER NIGHT
The Blue Jackets will host Hockey Fights Cancer Night later this week in partnership with OhioHealth. During the game, each player's autographed lavender jersey will either be auctioned or raffled off to raise funds for the Blue Jackets Foundation's ongoing efforts to fight against pediatric cancer.
Several pediatric cancer heroes will also be introduced on the ice prior to the game, alongside the Blue Jackets, and participate in other in-game experiences. There will be in-game tributes to both cancer survivors and those currently battling the disease, and fans can fill out "United, we fight cancer for …" battle cards to write down their personal connection to the fight against cancer.