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Lightning Players Discuss 'Cut For A Cure'

by Carlos Armstrong / Tampa Bay Lightning

When discussing cancer, it is important to understand the common saying that the disease does not choose whom it will strike. Cancer is a cruel, unfair and unpredictable force that can affect anyone at any time. There are no rules or restrictions to prevent it. Serving as a poignant reminder is the fact that every year, more than 160,000 children worldwide are diagnosed with the disease. That is a devastating statistic for a disease with no regard for who it touches.

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Fortunately, in the battle against cancer there are choices that individuals can make. Those choices are to either sit by idly, or to join the fight and help find a cure. Considering that most people can identify with at least one person (sometimes more) in their life that has been burdened by cancer, time does not permit merely sitting idly in hopes that things will change. This is a time to take action and fight to find a cure.

At the front of the charge, amongst those who have made the conscientious choice to fight, stands Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier. For years he has used his power of influence to take tremendous strides toward ridding the world of the terrible disease. Through the Vinny Lecavalier Foundation, he has managed to raise and donate millions of dollars towards treatment and finding cures for pediatric cancer.

Fittingly, this year he has decided to partner with the Pediatric Cancer Foundation for the 2nd Annual Brighthouse Networks Cut for a Cure, presented by Carrabba's Italian Grill, set to take place April 7. Accompanying Lecavalier at this event are teammates Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone, Victor Hedman, Nate Thompson, Teddy Purcell and Mike Smith. The seven players have announced they will shave their heads in the hope that people will sponsor their decision by donating money to the worthy cause.

Although not surprised by his teammates’ decision to join him in his quest, Lecavalier was still very thankful that none of them ever expressed reservations about shaving their heads.  In fact as he put it, they were all overwhelmingly supportive of the overall mission.

“I have six teammates, some of them with long hair, who didn’t even hesitate when I asked them to join me,” said Lecavalier. “That really means a lot to me. I am truly grateful that they were so supportive and wanting to help out.”

Those Lightning players more than wanted to help out, they want to make a difference. That appears to be the mentality of the Lightning organization. They are always ready and willing to give back to the community.  Smith, after not originally being with the team when Lecavalier approached his teammates, jumped at the opportunity when asked to shave his head for a cure. Afterwards, he even expressed gratitude and appreciation to have an opportunity to be involved.

Purcell, on the other hand, offered a heartfelt explanation to why that was the case, with all of his teammates.

“These kids are an inspiration to us,” Purcell said. “What these kids face on a daily basis is unbearable. A lot of times we get caught up thinking that we have stress in our lives, but it doesn’t even compare to what these kids deal with.

“It’s weird because they look up to us and get so excited to see us, when we visit them at the hospital and in the community.  I don’t think they realize it’s us who look up to them and it’s us who look forward to seeing them get healthier. Anything we can do to give back really is a no-brainer.”

Cut for a Cure is one of the better ways to show that mutual respect. Participating in the event demonstrates to the kids that they aren’t alone in their battle.

“By shaving our heads we want these kids who are battling cancer to know that we fully support what they have to go through,” said Lecavalier.

That is the notion behind Cut for a Cure, showing support by taking bold steps towards improving the lives of others.

To put it in perspective, Lightning players are shaving their heads two games before the end of the regular season, with playoffs looming. It is not far-fetched to believe that their bald heads may be displayed on center stage during the playoffs for the entire hockey world to see. Lecavalier was quick to point out, that by doing something others may find drastic, or shocking, they may actually be able to capture the much-desired attention that the event warrants.

At the very least, the hope is it should get people talking and noticing within the Tampa Bay area community.

“This isn’t your common golf tournament charity event. A lot of people are going to see our shaved heads,” said Lecavalier.  “I think that’s important. When people see that, we want them to understand what our goal is and we hope they’ll spread the message.”

For Hedman, whose aunt suffered through leukemia as a child when she was only four years old, the mission has become about much more than just raising awareness.

“I want to help this event raise a lot of money,” said Hedman, who admitted he was skipping his regularly scheduled haircuts for the big shave. “Ultimately, that is who is going to benefit, these kids.”

When asked if he had any other goals for the event Hedman said, “I just want the kids to have fun at the event and I want to help make them smile.”

Thompson, who has taken on a very active approach to raising awareness and generating money for the event, through his Twitter account, (@NateThompson44), shared a similar goal for the event.

“It is so important to raise money for these foundations,” said Thompson, who also knows someone back home in Alaska battling cancer. “We have to battle for anyone that has dealt with cancer. Even donating just one dollar goes a long way to finding a cure.

“I can’t justify not doing anything to help. I would sacrifice anything I can, to help these kids,” Thompson said.

Ultimately, that is the most important moral that should be taken from this event. Players are doing anything they can, even if it is just cutting their hair, as they all put it, to help find a cure. As a society that has put up with devastating blows delivered by cancer, that attitude must be embraced by everyone if there is ever going to be an end to this horrible disease.

Now is not the time to sit idly by, now is the time to join All In and fight this battle alongside these Bolts.

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