A year later, Nick Foligno still remembers how he felt a year ago not just hearing Tyler Woodward's story but being a part of it.
The Blue Jackets were a big part of the Reynoldsburg High School student's battle with cancer, including giving Woodward the chance to take a trip with the team to see a game last season in New York City.
Not only did Foligno get to be the one to tell Tyler he was traveling with the team, he sat with Woodward on the team plane and made him feel like one of the guys.
It's a story that was told during last year's version of The CannonBall, the annual night on the town fundraiser for the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, and one Foligno still holds close to this day.
Video: Tyler Woodward has an experience he'll never forget
"His story and his personality, I got to know him a little bit just being able to tell him he was coming on that trip to New York with us and how excited he was and what it meant to him," Foligno said. "I think a lot of times you realize that we have an opportunity to make people forget about some of the horrible things that go on in their lives. It's such a privilege.
"I think it's something that I never want to forget is how lucky we are to play this game because a lot of times it's peoples outs while they are going through some difficult things. To see him and how much he inspired me and this team with his attitude going through such a difficult time, I think it puts a lot of perspective on what we go through and consider a difficult time throughout our season, when we're not winning or scoring goals.
"It's really special to come across these people that can inspire you as much as you hope you inspire them."
That, in a nutshell, is what The CannonBall is all about. It's the best of all worlds, not just a night when the CBJ Foundation shares its work with the community. It is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the foundation, with last year's event making bringing in $525,000, and the foundation tells its story each year through its memorable program.
Yet at the same time, it's one of the can't-miss events of the year in Columbus. With this year's theme, Believe It Or Not, promising surprises from the moment attendees enter the party on Feb. 5, there will be the usual amazing food and drinks, as well as a chance to party with Blue Jackets players.
"It's always fun to go to those events and get to meet a lot of fans and the people that support the foundation," Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard said. "They bring a lot of money in for kids and stuff around the city, and I think it's important for us to be there. It's a lot of fun to be around all the people, and we make it fun and the foundation makes it fun with themes. It's a great night to be around and have a couple glasses of wine and enjoy your time."
A year ago, with The CannonBall boasting a 1980s theme, Savard was one of the players to be all-in on dressing up, joining Pierre-Luc Dubois in glasses, wigs and pastel colors in outfits that turned heads.
"I think the themes were pretty good the last couple of years," he said. "I try to get into it, and I think we have to make it fun. Every year you meet new people, and I still have people that I met at those events that I still talk to regularly, so it's great. Last year was pretty fun with the '80s party. I like to get into it and have fun with it, and it was a really fun night last year."
Beyond the themes, there's always a take-home message, too, about the good work the foundation does in the Columbus community in the areas of pediatric cancer, reading, fitness through play and the growth and development of amateur hockey.
Video: Blue Jackets Foundation aids Columbus Special Hockey
"I think my favorite part is how it's evolved," Foligno said. "The stories behind it, I think a lot of times throughout the season we're just so go, go, go. That's a day to reflect and bring everything together about what our foundation does and what we're working toward as players as well. You meet all these kids and then you hear all their stories and really see them and enjoy a night together in making a difference and doing good.
"I think that's something that makes us feel good. That's why we love doing it. It's a lot of fun for us to mingle with the fans but also know that we're helping a lot of families and people in need in our community."
Don't miss out, as the event has been sold out for each of the past two years. To purchase tickets, visit BlueJackets.com/CannonBall or call (614) 246-4315.
The CBJ Foundation has provided more than $11.4 million to our community since the team's inception in 2000.