COLUMBUS, OHIO --- The Columbus Blue Jackets and the Blue Jackets Foundation are proud to join the NHL and NHLPA for hockey’s most important fight, the fight against cancer. With help from our partners at OhioHealth, The Blue Jackets will raise money and create awareness for a disease that touches the lives of so many this Friday, Oct. 25 as the Blue Jackets host the Toronto Maple Leafs and Nationwide Arena.
Because cancer has impacted so many, over the coming days we will highlight players and staff within the organization and their personal fight for the cause.
When Columbus Blue Jackets' assistant coach Dan Hinote was a player for the Colorado Avalanche and the St. Louis Blues, the fans in those communities came out and cheered for him on the ice. Off the ice, Hinote wanted to give back to the fans who supported him, and wanted to do so in a meaningful way.
"I always wanted to come up with something on a personal level to give back to the community," said Hinote. "After spending time with cancer patients and their families, it was clear that they were the people I wanted to help. It’s a big population that has to battle cancer, especially children, and there’s no shortage of soldiers out there battling. If we can help, then we're going to help in any way we can."
When he lived out in Denver, Hinote's sister, Missy, worked at the local hospital as a nurse practitioner for kids with cancer. In his spare time, Hinote formed relationships with the patients and their families, asking how he could improve their lives during their fights with cancer.
"I wanted to create something that whether it’s $20, $100, $1,000, that I knew exactly what that money did," said Hinote. "The money helps kids and their families’ lives right now, whether it’s through movies, computers, events—whatever we can do to make their lives better during this time."
Though Hinote started "Hinote's Heroes" in Denver, he has expanded his foundation to include aid and events to patients all over the country.
"Hinote’s Heroes goes wherever we are," said Hinote. "Whenever we run across kids with cancer in need, we try and help them. We don’t limit ourselves to one city or one state. Wherever we are, Hinote’s Heroes is there."
Now that Hinote has a more permanent position in Columbus, he has become involved with the work of the Blue Jackets Foundation and Nationwide Children's Hospital. During his time here, he has worked with the Foundation to organize hospital visits with Blue Jackets players and with other Foundation initiatives that battle cancer.
"Fortunately, here, Nationwide Children's Hospital has everything they need and they don’t have a big wish list," said Hinote. "What I can provide is opportunities to see the players. Opportunities to come to a Blue Jackets game. Getting experiences with the hockey team that they wouldn’t normally get. That’s the groundwork I’m laying: providing the kids in the hospital here with an opportunity they can’t buy, which is interaction with our players."
"The organization does a phenomenal job of making us all involved. It’s helping with the kids, it’s getting the preparation ready, signing things—whatever it is, everyone’s involved equally and willing to help."
As the Blue Jackets, the Foundation and Hinote prepare for Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Friday, Hinote says that the message is bigger than the game they'll play on the ice.
“What’s special about Hockey Fights Cancer night is the awareness it raises--not only for cancer itself, but with the awareness for just how giving Columbus is," said Hinote. "People take for granted that people in Columbus are willing to help, and then you have a night like this where it shows up, bright as day.
"Everybody is here, everybody is involved, and everybody is helping. That, to me, is what’s on showcase—is how willing people are to fight for this cause and bring awareness to what we’re doing as a city and team.”