ST. LOUIS - Alex Pietrangelo is a darn good hockey player, and as it turns out, he's a pretty good uncle, too.
He didn’t want his five-year-old niece, who is undergoing chemotherapy, to be the only one losing her hair, so on Monday afternoon, he let her shave his head.
“We’ve been talking about it for awhile, about when she loses her hair,” Pietrangelo said after practice Tuesday. “I asked if she wanted to (shave my head) yesterday. To see her laugh and smile, the way she was when she was doing it - even though she dug the razor in a couple times - it was good.”
In August, Ellie was diagnosed with Wilms’ Tumor, a rare type of kidney cancer that primarily affects children. Since her diagnosis, she has undergone surgery to remove her kidney and has moved onto the next stage of treatment, which includes chemotherapy.
“She’s a bundle of joy, a handful, she’s fun to be around,” Pietrangelo said. “We’re all there to support her, but to see the way she’s acting, it’s something to learn from. You appreciate every day that you have.”
Ellie’s family has set up a GoFundMe page where people can donate to help offset the costs of her medical bills. So far, 152 people have donated to raise $18,367. In addition, “Fight Like Ellie” pins are being sold for $3 each at Hair Statement, which is located on McKelvey Road in Maryland Heights.
This isn’t the first time someone close to Pietrangelo has been affected by cancer. Seth Lange, who passed away in August after battling leukemia, became good friends with Pietrangelo after the two met in 2011.
“To have this happen, you learn a lot from these people,” Pietrangelo said. “To see the way (Ellie) acts, see how strong she is…she wakes up every day and she’s excited.
"Everything’s progressing the way it should be. She’s in good spirits."
The Blues will raise money for cancer research with their annual Hockey Fights Cancer night on Nov. 1 vs. Colorado. Volunteers on the concourse will sell Hockey Fights Cancer lapel pins and T-shirts to raise money, and a special silent auction will be held outside Section 119 to benefit St. Louis area cancer organizations.
In addition, fans who purchase tickets to the Nov. 1 game through this link can use offer code HFC14 and $5 of their ticket price will be donated to the Hockey Fights Cancer initiative.