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Cote Fighting Off the Ice

by Brian Gatti | / Philadelphia Flyers
Multiple Sclerosis Night

Thurs., March 6, 7:00 p.m.
Flyers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

On the ice, Philadelphia Flyers left wing Riley Cote often acts as an enforcer. He’s a hard-nosed hockey player who isn’t afraid to drop the gloves in order to gain some momentum for his team.

When the equipment is off and the skates are hanging in his locker stall, Cote continues to fight. As a matter of fact, his whole family is involved in this particular off-ice battle.

About eight years ago, Cote’s older sister, Jaime, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; also known by its acronym: MS. Thousands of families across the United States and Canada deal with this disease every day.

MS is a neurological disease that affects the human nervous system, and is usually detected in younger adults. It occurs when the body’s cells, meant to attack infection, start to attack the nerve cells. This can make it stressful for someone who is newly diagnosed.

“When [Jaime] first had it she was getting real weak and emotional,” explained Cote. “She couldn’t do the things that she normally did.”

Despite not yet having a cure, people with MS are not contagious, and are expected to live a full life if treated properly.

“She takes a needle every other day,” Cote said. “If you saw her [now], you would never even know she had MS.”

Cote describes his sister as a very active person who, even with MS, works at a daycare and still plays soccer and softball in the summer time.

“I think the needles that she is taking now kind of keep MS where it’s at,” Cote said. “It’s good that it was diagnosed early, so it isn’t worse and she has to be with a cane.”

Cote has spent the last few years working hard to become an NHL hockey player. Now that he’s there, he can devote more time to spread the word about MS.

“I think I’m going to start getting more involved now,” Cote said. “I’m going to do what I can to reach out and make people aware of this disease.”

On Thursday, March 6, Cote, along with his teammates and the entire Flyers organization, will hold MS awareness night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wachovia Center.

On fan appreciation night, Cote scored his first NHL goal. On March 6, he will shoot for another goal: to help people become more aware of MS, and realize that even hockey players have to face adversity in their lives.

“Some people think that we have the fairy tale life because we’re professional athletes,” Cote explained. “The reality is that we’re human beings, and if it’s not MS, it’s cancer or something else that just about every family can relate to.”
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