BostonBruins.com – Whether he’s sticking up for a teammate on the ice or visiting sick children in their battle against cancer at the Jimmy Fund Clinic, Shawn Thornton never shies away from a fight.
“I like doing these things,” Thornton said of Tuesday’s visit to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “It’s very easy for us to give back in this way and it puts a lot of things in perspective for you too.”
Thornton understands how any distraction is important to the children and specifically recalled stopping by one particular room at the clinic.
“I know there’s one family we saw in there and all three kids have gone through it,” Thornton said. “But they’re the hugest Bruins fans ever, so when we walked in they were all smiles, and I think it gave them a little relief for a couple minutes.
“We interrupted about six doctors talking to them which they didn’t seem to mind.”
The folks at the Jimmy Fund Clinic didn’t mind – not one bit.
Lisa Scherber, Director of Patient and Family Programs at Dana Farber Children’s Cancer Center, spoke about how valuable Thornton’s visits are to the children.
“To see these kids realize that for maybe ten minutes they get to not think about chemotherapy, they get to not think about what treatments are coming up next,” Scherber said. “They get to focus on their hero.
“Shawn really makes them feel special.”
Thornton is actively involved in the Jimmy Fund and visits the clinic whenever he gets the chance.
“He really lights up the place when he walks in,” Scherber said, “We have so many kids that use the Bruins games to sort of get through their treatment.
“When they see someone like Shawn coming in their doors, and they see him fight on the ice, and then they see the real guy here who’s just trying to make their day… it’s just really special for us.”
Thornton spoke about why the spirit of giving back is engrained in the culture of hockey players.
“We’re pretty down to earth regular guys,” said Thornton. “We have a locker room of twenty individuals that go out and perform as a team all the time and nobody’s head gets too big or else nineteen guys bring it back down.
“I think the fact that we’re so grounded probably helps with this stuff. I think we relate to a lot of people. We enjoy these things, we really do. It’s not for anything else except for the fact that we enjoy doing them.”
The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute enjoys having him as well.
“Players like Shawn that just support us, just make us feel really good,” Scherber said.
“We know we’re not alone in this fight.”