Every Blue Jacket fan is likely to have their favorite Blue Jacket hat. But some hats are just a little bit more special than others, especially when they come from any of the "Hats for Heroes" collections.
Every year, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in Columbus makes the "Hats for Heroes" program possible not just to help raise money to fight pediatric cancer, but also to put smiles on children's faces.
The origin of the program was personal.
One of the FOP members had a child who was battling cancer and was selected to be one of the Blue Jackets' annual pediatric cancer heroes. The member told FOP Treasurer Brian Spann about the Jackets' program and an idea was born.
Spann reached out to the Blue Jackets Foundation to see how the FOP could help and the result was an annual commitment by the FOP to fund the purchase of custom hats that could be sold to raise money for the fight against pediatric cancer.
"It was an easy sell to my membership to apply the funds to that cause," Spann said. "Most of us have kids, it's not hard to identify with the pain of a child battling cancer. And as police officers, we see so much bad going on, that any time we get a chance to see something good, or put a smile on a kid's face, we want to help."
Over the years, the FOP has found ways to keep the "Hats for Heroes" program fresh. The hats are sold on the main concourse at Nationwide Arena, and every season, the design changes. There are always color options and some years, like this year, there are two designs from which one can choose. 100-percent of all proceeds goes directly towards the Blue Jackets Foundation's efforts to fight pediatric cancer.
The FOP has helped hand out the hats at events and at games; and one year, in addition to the hats that were sold, the FOP partnered with then-player Jody Shelley on a custom "Together We Fight" hat. In addition to the "fight" slogan, the hat bore Shelley's number 45 and the FOP logo.
"Jody was the enforcer on the team," Spann said. "We fight crime, and we gave the hat only to the kids with cancer because they were in their own fight. We made a hat specifically for that purpose."
The FOP's annual donation of $10,000, sometimes more, funds the Hats program. The money comes from general fundraisers the group conducts throughout the year. so many FOP members are personally invested in the fight against pediatric cancer, it's not hard to keep participating year after year.
FOP members love to see the hats around town or at Blue Jackets games and the policemen and women still remembers their fellow member's son who battled so bravely and is now healthy and "going full steam ahead."
"As police officers, we go into homes where kids are treated badly and we want to offer even a little bit of help to any children we can," Spann said. "We have the opportunity to donate money to the Foundation and that allows them to purchase the hats and donate all the proceeds to cancer. All of our members are behind that."