The time of the year is back when the Tampa Bay Lightning roll out the yellow carpet for The Yerrid Foundation and a week of Tampa Bay Fights Cancer events.
In the 6th annual Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night, the Lightning and The Lightning Foundation will partner with community leader Steve Yerrid and The Yerrid Foundation to help spread the message that courage, strength and love can build bridges to a better tomorrow in the fight against cancer.
"Steve Yerrid is a great friend of the Tampa Bay Lightning and of this community and he likes to give back," said Lightning President and H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation board member Ron Campbell. "We're very blessed that he's chosen us to be his friends and this is a way in which we partner to try and make a difference in the community. I look at it as a day that allows the people to leave their cares or their problems behind them. They can come out and have a smile on their face, have a great experience and meet some of the players."
Concluding Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Week, the centerpiece event involves a match-up between the Lightning and New York Islanders on Friday, November 17 (8:00p.m.). Over 4,000 individuals tied to the cancer community of Tampa Bay will be invited to enjoy the game at the St. Pete Times Forum.
To date, more than 20,000 cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, families, doctors, nurses and volunteers have been the guests in the Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night activities. With the goal of bringing the cause to the forefront of the community's awareness, the Yerrid and Lightning Foundations have teamed together to provide tickets, t-shirts and food vouchers to all participants of the event.
"To my knowledge there's nothing like it in professional sports or otherwise," Yerrid said of the event. "We have a situation where a great sports franchise allows us to bring together organizations that work for largely the same cause in finding a cure, and 364 days a year are in competition for charity dollars. That particular night is not a fundraising night - it's an awareness night and it's a very special night to show all the wonderful things we can do if we work together."
"Recognizing that we put faces with the cause, when you see those young people at the event, all of a sudden it's not just a cause or some abstract motivation to quote "do good". It's working to save the lives of the people whose faces you see and touch. In this way, their cause and effect becomes ours. It's very personal."
Special guests at the game will receive Zamboni rides, meet-and-greets with Lightning players and will enjoy other activities on the plaza level. One lucky guest will also be chosen to kick off the game with, "Let's play hockey."
For this year's event, fans will see the return of the familiar yellow Thunderstix, yellow Yerrid Foundation t-shirts and Steve Yerrid's book Tampa Bay Lightnig Winning Ways, The Making of a Championship Heart. All fans will receive yellow Thunderstix at the game and are encouraged to help contribute to this special cause by purchasing commemorative items for the event.
In addition to the shirts, copies of Yerrid's Winning Ways will also be available for $20 at the game.
The newest item commemorating the event will be the introduction of a limited edition yellow cup. Limited to 2,500 pieces, the cup will be available for $5 and will be good for two sodas during the game.
Eight local organizations have been sponsored for the Lightning-Islanders game on Nov. 17 including Children's Cancer Center, Children's Dream Fund, Faces of Courage, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Moffitt Cancer Center, Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Ronald McDonald House and Tampa General Hospital.
In December of 1998, the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association announced a joint initiative, Hockey Fights Cancer, to honor those in the hockey community who have struggled, or continue to struggle with cancer. Hockey's All-Star Kids Program, an extension of Hockey Fights Cancer, was introduced in October 1999 to link the hockey community with the youngest victims of cancer. As a whole, the NHL and contributing partners have raised more than $7 million in support of local cancer research organizations across the league.