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Boston Bruins Wives' Charity Carnival

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Michael Ryder and two big fans. (Photo: Babineau)
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Boston, MA -- On January 4, 2009 the Boston Bruins Foundation held its 19th annual Wives' Charity Carnival, presented by Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center.

"It's great because you always want to give back to the community," said Boston Bruins winger Milan Lucic, who this year participated in his second Carnival. "And everyone is involved -- not only the players, but also all the wives and alumni.

"Ray (Bourque) is here as are Cam (Neely), Terry (O'Reilly) and Chief (John Bucyk).

"Not only are we giving back, we're having a lot of fun doing it," he said.

For sure, the Boston Bruins Wives' Charity Carnival is a day of fun, filled with interactive events, including locker room tours, autograph sessions and photo opportunities, and in attendance was the entire 2008-09 Boston Bruins team, their families, the Ice Girls, Blades, and the Stanley Cup. 

This was the 19th year for the Wives’ Carnival, which benefited the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

“I think it’s great,” said Melissa Thomas, wife of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas. “That’s especially because we get a chance to raise a lot of money for a cause like Cystic Fibrosis.

“It’s a great event for everybody.”

The charity-driven carnival fun began with the VIP session in the morning, located in Legends. Fans had the opportunity to have memorabilia autographed by their favorite Boston Bruins players and coaches.

The event continued throughout the day with two more sessions filled with carnival-type games (like the always popular "strong man" and "wheel of chance") and interactive activities like video game sensations Dance Dance Revolution and Rock Band.

Fans also had a chance to meet with and get autographs from Cheevers, NESN’s Andy Brickley and Rick "Nifty" Middleton, who now serves as president of the Boston Bruins Alumni.

"This event has been very successful over the years, mainly due to all the wives," said Middleton. "And even though wives and players come and go...they all take on the job of making this as special as it is, and we've been very fortunate to have a strong alumni base around here for years.

“There's no end to the work in the community that the current players, the alumni players and the Boston Bruins Foundation do...I think it's very special," he said.

Most of the activities featured a B's skater or coach, and children of all ages were able to challenge their favorite player in physical games like ping pong (Chuck Kobasew) or knock-hockey (Michael Ryder), play video games with Mark Stuart (Dance Dance Revolution) or Blake Wheeler (Guitar Hero), or enjoy a tour of the Bruins locker room with head coach Claude Julien.

"With all the Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution going on, it was fun for us and fun for all of the wives, too," said Lucic. "I've never done anything like this before last year, so I am happy to be a part of it."

One of the main attractions of the day was, of course, the Stanley Cup. Hockey Hall of Famer John "Chief" Bucyk accompanied the trophy and posed for photographs with fans and hockey's "Holy Grail."

Bucyk wasn't the only Bruins legend on hand for photographs -- Cam Neely, Terry O'Reilly and Ray Bourque all sat for photos with fans as well.

"I know they started this when I was coaching," said O'Reilly, who sat in front of his retired number, posing for photos. "We've had it every year since."

Like every year, despite the fun, the real intention of the event was lost on no one.

The mission of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a nonprofit donor-supported organization, is to assure the development of the means to cure and control cystic fibrosis and to improve the quality of life for those with the disease.

"It kind of hits home even harder," said Director of Development for the Boston Bruins Foundation and former Bruins forward, Bob Sweeney. "A former Bruin player, Gerry Cheevers, has two granddaughters with Cystic Fibrosis, so I guess the Bruins family knows firsthand about this terrible disease.

"But with the strides that they are making and the research they've put into eliminating this disease, the life expectancy has doubled," he said.

"Every year it's a different charity...and this year it is a little closer to home [because] of Gerry Cheever's two grandchildren," said O'Reilly. "It makes you realize that any illness can come into your family or that of a close friend at any time, so we all just chip in to do what we can to help out."

Cheevers, who was also available to pose for photos, talked about the strides made towards combating Cystic Fibrosis – strides made possible by events like today’s carnival.

“They are very close…from what I understand,” said the former Bruins standout, “not only in the treatment, but in the possibility of a cure.

“If it wasn’t for events like this, these things wouldn’t happen.

“We keep telling people…come have some fun and put some money into the fight against cystic fibrosis,” he said.

You can lend a hand in the fight, too. Click here to learn more about the Boston Bruins Foundation.
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