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Tampa Fights Cancer, Hockey Fights Cancer Converge at Times Forum Thursday Night

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

Each year the Tampa Bay Lightning face-off against numerous opponents during the month of October. But on Thursday, October 29 at the St. Pete Times Forum, the Bolts will battle two opponents simultaneously: the Ottawa Senators, as well as a more formidable foe outside the realm of NHL teams.

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The Lightning will host the 10th annual Tampa Fights Cancer Night as part of a local initiative to raise awareness about the disease and to join in the act of putting cancer on ice. The team’s annual effort with The Steve Yerrid Foundation highlights the urgency of creating cancer awareness nationwide, while serving the cause on a smaller scale as part of the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer league-wide program.

Founded in December 1998 as the centerpiece of its joint charitable initiative to raise money and awareness for organizations involved in cancer care and research, Hockey Fights Cancer has raised more than $10.5 million to date.

“So many families are affected by this,” Lightning senior vice president of sales and marketing Brad Lott said. “Rather than go to doctors’ appointments or the hospital, Tampa Fights Cancer Night lets them come out and enjoy a night of hockey, gives them an opportunity to put the negative concerns behind them for a short time, and provides them with a unique experience.”

Perhaps it’s good karma as a result of the team’s generous philanthropy, or just good hockey, but regardless, The Tampa Bay Lightning have never lost on Tampa Fights Cancer Night. In fact, it’s fitting that hope signifies the event’s universal theme, as fans in attendance will be exhibiting that very sentiment. Some, in that the Lightning will continue its winning streak on the designated night, and all, in support of finding a cure.

“I don’t know when we will ever make a difference,” Yerrid said in regard to a world-wide effort to stop the disease. “But I know here, we have made a difference.”

“Children represent the best hope for a better tomorrow. I honestly believe they are the treasures of the world and carry aspirations of what we, right now, couldn’t do today. They understand that we care, and they realize that we are standing behind them,” Yerrid added.

To honor the cause, Lightning players will display decals of ribbons on the back of their helmets, as well as invite pediatric cancer patients to participate in a meet-and-greet session, sit in both the penalty box before the game and the press box during the game, as well as carve up some ice in a pre-game skate. The Lightning organization, through proceeds stemming from the sale of yellow caps and t-shirts, will donate all the funds in support of Tampa Fights Cancer night.

“The contributions of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Lightning players have been one thing,” Yerrid said. “Priceless.”

On behalf of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Steve Yerrid Foundation, numerous organizations such as Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa General Hospital, Children’s Cancer Center, Pediatric Cancer Foundation, and One Voice will be invited to celebrate life and educate the public about the disease.

Unlike in hockey, it doesn’t take pads, sticks, or helmets to fight cancer. Just guts.

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