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STEPPING INTO THE LIGHT

by Kristin Pellettier / New York Islanders
Bright lights are something that Thomas Reynolds and his mother Lisa have not grown accustomed to seeing as they’ve anxiously paced the hallways of Winthrop Hospital. Their trips to the doctor’s office had been the ordinary, tedious routine for the past nine years. Thomas has suffered through numerous health issues since the young age of two, and has been battling ever since. Unlike most of the superstars in the National Hockey League who are constantly flashed by camera bulbs and arena spotlights, the only bright lights that Thomas has been under are the ones that dangle high above the operating room tables in the hospital.


At the end of the month however, both Thomas and the stars from the 2009-10 NHL season will collide under the same bright lights in Las Vegas at the NHL Awards show, a surreal escape from the demanding responsibilities of their daily lives.
Each season the New York Islanders hold a raffle for season ticket holders to win various prizes such as a trip to the NHL Awards show.  Jay Bernstein of Northville Industries has been a season ticket subscriber with the Islanders for years, and is a major contributor to Islanders’ Hall of Fame forward Mike Bossy’s program, “Bossy’s Bunch.” By the end of next season, Bernstein will have contributed as much as one thousand tickets to Bossy’s program.

“It is a wonderful program that Mike (Bossy) has created with the Islanders,” Bernstein said.
When Bernstein found out he had won two tickets from a yearly subscriber contest to go to this years NHL Awards Show on June 23, it is no surprise that the last person he thought of was himself. What he did with the tickets was not out of the ordinary for Bernstein, but had truly been an act of selflessness.

“I wasn’t surprised at all that Jay decided to donate the tickets back,” Bossy said. “It took him a minute to respond telling me he had won the contest and to use it for the children.”

He chose to donate the two tickets to The Children's Medical Center at Winthrop University Hospital, who would then have then took on the task of finding the perfect child to present the invitation.

“I knew that some deserving young child would receive them and I’m just delighted that we can help make someone’s day,” Bernstein said.

Thomas Reynolds and his mother were nothing less than overjoyed when they were told they would receive the tickets to this year’s NHL Award Show in Las Vegas.

The invitation came as a total surprise to Thomas and his mother who found out the good news last week.

“We were really almost in shock it was just great,” Reynolds said. “Thomas has always been a huge NHL fan as well as an Islanders fan. He looks forward most to meeting Mike Bossy and seeing all the players at the award show.”

The gratification that Bernstein has gotten from donating the tickets is a much better feeling than he ever would have experienced seeing Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby or Ryan Miller walk down the red carpet.

Words were difficult to come by for the family while talking about their appreciation towards Bernstein and Bossy for their generous contribution.

“Thank you just doesn’t fit,” Reynolds said, “We’ve been very fortunate to have met some very kind people in very difficult times. We are blessed to meet people like Jay and what he has done for Thomas.”

For Thomas, it had been a very unexpected yet amazing surprise.

“I was really excited,” Thomas said.

“It just lets you know how many great people there are out there and just what a blessing it is to have had met such nice people,” Reynolds said.

Bernstein’s selfless choice to donate the tickets will help make a very well deserving child experience a once in a lifetime opportunity.

For Thomas, battling his illness has become an overwhelming journey that he has faced with such courage and optimism. When the family boards for their six-hour flight from New York to Nevada, they will embark upon a journey that will give them memories to last a lifetime. For once, the glitz and glamour that has rarely been a part of their past will become the present as they walk down the red carpet with the bright lights shining on them. 
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