It’s August. The sun is shinning. Birds are singing. Beaches are packed. Patios are at capacity. Golf courses are full.
The last thing on anyone’s mind right now is hockey – except for those lucky enough to ever meet Todd Davison. This week all their attention is on the former WHLer and his incredible legacy.
The 5th annual SuperStar Summer Showdown, a charity hockey game organized by Davison prior to succumbing to cancer in 2006 and maintained by his Believe in the Goal Foundation Inc., takes place August 12 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
A who’s who of NHLers will take to the ice to support cancer patient care, including Jonathan Toews, Travis Zajac, Mike Richards, Cam Barker and Derek Meech, not to mention an ensemble of Vancouver Canucks: Mason Raymond, Cory Schneider, Jannik Hansen, Nolan Baumgartner, Aaron Rome and Alex Bolduc, alongside Canucks equipment assistant Brian Hamilton and skill coach Glenn Carnegie, who are helping with the event.
Carnegie, a Winnipeg product and the former strength and conditioning coach for the Manitoba Moose, is co-owner of Focus Fitness, a state-of-the-art training facility that attracts its share of NHL superstars during the off-season. Specializing in hockey specific training for players of all ages, Carnegie first met Davison, a bright, up-and-coming forward looking to improve his game, after his first season in the WHL.
Carnegie and Davison became good friends through hockey, but before Davison was able to realize his true potential on the ice, he was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that attacked the tissues surrounding the joint of his left shoulder. The cancer deteriorated Davison’s body forcing him from hockey, yet his mind remained as sharp as ever. Realizing this disease may be too much to overcome, he set out to ensure others with cancer have a fighting chance.
“He went to Vancouver one summer and saw a Lance Armstrong seminar and Lance was talking about how everyone can do something positive, so he came back all motivated and talked to me about what he could do,” recalled Carnegie, vice-president of the board of directors for Believe in the Goal Foundation.
“I thought that with my connections training all the guys and him actually playing with them and training with them that maybe we could put together a hockey game.”
That seed of an idea has grown into more than most imagined it could.
The SuperStar Summer Showdown (formally the Sizzling Summer Showdown) began at the Selkirk Recreation Complex, a 2,500-seat arena and that was enough for the first three years, but the event was moved to the MTS Centre in Winnipeg last year due to overwhleming public support and demand for tickets. Fans doubled to 5,000 last year and this summer Carnegie anticipates close to 7,000.
“He would love this and be so proud of it,” said Carnegie. “The first year we did it I remember driving to Selkirk with him and he was so excited, there were like 1,100 people in there and he was pretty pumped to see it all come together. Now he’d be more than excited with the event. That’s the kind of guy he was, he’d get so excited about things and worked so hard at everything he did, so he would have been real proud of where it is now.
“The best part about it is that 90 per cent of the guys playing are Manitobans. We started with Toews and Zajac and guys like that before they were huge in the NHL and now that they are it has added a lot to the event, so it doesn’t surprise me how far it’s come at all. It’s been a real positive experience since day one. Like I said, Todd would be proud.”
The SuperStar Summer Showdown, which now includes an invitational golf tournament, has raised nearly $300,000 for cancer care to make a tangible difference in the lives of young kids and adolescents battling through the various stages of cancer via “Comfort and Care” initiatives, events and programs.
For more information Davison’s SuperStar Summer Showdown, check out www.believeinthegoal.com and stay tuned to Canucks.com as reporter Kristin Reid is traveling to Winnipeg and will get her first taste of Friendly Manitoba to cover the event.