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by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brad Richards renewed his commitment to the Richy's Rascals Suite Escape charity program for at least the next five years at a re-dedication ceremony for his newly-renovated suite. Richards, 26, who led the Lightning in scoring during the 2005-06 season, signed a five-year contract with the team on May 22.

"The support the Tampa Bay area has shown me has been tremendous," Richards said. "I am grateful to be a member of this outstanding community and I am enjoying establishing roots here. As I believe I still have a lot to offer this team and organization on the ice, furthering my commitment off the ice and to charity is equally important.

"The opportunity to work with these amazing families, the Children's Cancer Center and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, inspires me to raise Richy's Rascals to new heights. I am thrilled to remain in Tampa and continue the program for at least the next five years."

Participating in the re-dedication ceremony at the newly-renovated suite inside the St. Pete Times Forum were Richards, representatives from the Children's Cancer Center and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, and children involved in his Richy's Rascals charity program. Contributors to the suite project include: Dr. Doodle, Inc., Jim Henning, Gigi Farrell, Netta Radice Design, Inc., Panarelli Construction and Renovation, Inc., Michael & Joy Murray, Advanced Audio Design, Bright House Networks and Edy's.

Following the re-dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting, Richards hosted families from the Children's Cancer Center and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation at an End of Season Celebration at Splitsville at Channelside.

Since the start of the 2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning season, Richards has been providing pediatric oncology patients and their families with a true suite escape. The Prince Edward Island native purchased a luxury suite at the St. Pete Times Forum and works with the Children's Cancer Center and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, touching the lives of hundreds of children and families affected by pediatric cancer through Richy's Rascals Suite Escape.

Richy's Rascals Suite Escape was designed as an outreach program for children who are battling cancer. The suite takes adolescent luxury to the next level by providing Brad's young guests with everything from arts and crafts materials to a Sony PlayStation, television, DVD player and games. Additionally, Richy's Rascals are given bandannas, t-shirts and other trinkets to commemorate their Lightning experience.

"Many of these kids and their families don't get the chance to go out together and just be a family," Richards said. "Between doctor's appointments, treatments and a million other things that come up every day, they don't always have the opportunity to have fun. I thought the suite would be a great way for me to give these families a nice night out!"

Brad was touched by childhood cancer at a young age and his inspiration for the program comes from his first cousin, Jamie Reynolds, who was diagnosed with brain cancer at age four. After a brave and arduous fight, Jamie passed away two years later and Brad has not forgotten him or his courage in the fight against cancer.

At every Tampa Bay Lightning home game, the Richy's Rascals suite is filled to the brim with fun and laughter. The suite is completely catered and loaded with goodies, and Brad always ends the experience with the opportunity to meet him post game for photos and autographs in the locker room area. Adorned on the walls of the suite, are great memories of the families who have been guests of Brad.

"I really want this be the ultimate good time for these kids and their families," Richards said. "I want the suite to be a place that they can call their own - a place that each family can become a part of."
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