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B's Alumni visit Dana Farber Cancer Institute

by Hannah Goldman / Boston Bruins

Courtney and LB.
Boston, MA -- The Boston Bruins Foundation Bike Team didn’t need any extra motivation to ride in the long and tough Pan-Mass Challenge, but a few of the members certainly got it when they visited the Jimmy Fund Clinic at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute last Thursday.

Bike team members Lyndon Byers, Don Sweeney, Bob Sweeney, Gary Doak, Dan Zimmer, Kim Jacobs and Deb McNamara toured the clinic and met with some of the children and their families.

After passing out goodie bags with player cards and a poster, the B’s alumni posed for pictures and signed some autographs. Bob Sweeney, a former member of the Black & Gold and Boston Bruins Foundation Director of Development, wasted no time getting into a game of Wii tennis with one of the patients.

“When these players stop by, I think it means the world to them,” said Lisa Scherber, the Patient Activity Coordinator of the Jimmy Fund Clinic. “They see these players as their heroes. They aren’t real people to them. So when they walk in here, the kids are just stunned.

“It is one of those things that helps distract them from what is going on. They could be having one of the worst days, but when they see someone come in that is famous or an athlete, they don’t care, they will be here for eight hours. All of a sudden their attitude has changed and that is really important.”

One patient, a youngster named Antonio, got down to some serious conversation with Bob Sweeney. After inquiring about what position Sweeney used to play (and being slightly disappointed that Bob was not a goalie) he told the big former B’s and BC forward that he didn’t look too old to play and that he should get back on the ice.

Sweeney wasn’t so sure about that, and chuckled self-deprecatingly.

Byers (or LB), a former Bruins pugilist and currently the Sports Guy on the “Hill Man in the Morning” show on WAAF, put a smile on quite a few of the kids’ faces.

One of the teenage patients, Courtney, told him how a group of her friends went to a WAAF concert a little while ago, but how she was unable to attend. LB gave her his email and told her to contact him when she was feeling better and that he would get her and her friends tickets to a concert.

“It is just one of those things – I am very lucky to be able to do things like that and it is great,” explained Byers.

As a player who stayed in Boston after he retired, LB has a nice perspective on his ongoing visits with the Bruins alumni.

“Whether you are retired or not, you are still a Boston Bruin to them,” said Byers, who can often be heard talking Bruins hockey in the morning. “But to me, they are ten times tougher than I ever was when I played – clearly that fight in (the hospital) is a bigger fight than I ever had when I was playing for the Bruins.

“It is touching to be here; it is special and I hope that it was as special for them as it was for me because being able to do this is awesome,” he said.

When asked if visiting these children gives him any extra motivation, Byers response was very, very honest.

“Any amount of pain that I would be in on this ride is minimal compared to what they are going through,” he said. “Being able to put a smile on their mom and dad’s face and on their face for a minute, ten minutes, whatever it is, is a very special thing.

“That is what is great about the city of Boston; that is what is great about the Boston Bruins. The Bruins have always been a part of the Dana Farber.

“It is pretty amazing,” said Byers.

What’s more amazing are the success stories.

“Today I met a patient that I met back in 1991 and he is fighting the good fight,” continued Byers. “He was here today for his annual check up and he is going to get a clean bill of health.
“We exchanged emails, so he is going to send the picture from ’91 that he took and I am going to send the picture from today and sign them both, so it is pretty cool.”

Clearly, the relationship that the B’s and the Bruins Foundation, past and present, maintains with the Dana Farber institute and the Jimmy Fund Clinic is a special one. The alumni play an important role with their effort during the Pan-Mass Challenge. And although the current players cannot ride in the race, they make their own visits to the Children’s Hospital as well.

“I think more than anything, it puts life in perspective,” said Byers. “When you think about life’s issues and what is going on and then you come here and you see the courage and the strength of these young people…you just want to put a smile on their face.”

Click here to learn more about the Boston Bruins Foundation Bike Team and donating to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
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