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The bald and the beautiful: Lightning players shave their heads to benefit pediatric cancer research

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning may have somewhat of a different look to them for the remaining nine games of the regular season.

Not because general manager Steve Yzerman pulled off a blockbuster trade, nor did he deal for a high-prized free agent.

Rather, Vincent Lecavalier and four of his Bolts teammates including Alex Killorn, BJ Crombeen, Teddy Purcell and Matt Carle each went bald for the cure on Wednesday evening, shaving their heads on behalf of the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and selected local and national nonprofit organizations.

Serving as the marquee event of the Fourth Annual Bright House Networks Cut For A Cure, presented by Carrabba’s Italian Grill, the players each decided to get on board with the fundraiser, whose mission is to raise funds and awareness in the fight against cancer.

The evening is representative of the players’ commitment to stand behind individual participants, who in some cases are fighting for their lives a greater battle than the one that the Lightning players are used to engaging in on the ice each night.

“It’s all for charity, and for the past three years, it’s been a great event,” Lecavalier said. “Not only are myself and my teammates honored to be involved, but also the entire community. It’s always a lot of fun to get together in support of a great cause.”

Participating under the name Team Lightning, the five Bolts players’ mission this year hit a little closer to home, adding greater significance to the cause.

Just two weeks ago, former Lightning assistant coach Wayne Fleming passed away after a long, courageous battle with brain cancer. Fleming joined the team prior to the start of the 2010-11 season and was integral in helping the team make it all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. A great coach indeed, as many around the hockey world knew him, but “an even better man,” as Purcell described.

Of course, Fleming’s passing was preceded by that of Katie Moore, the late wife of one-time Lightning forward Dominic Moore, who also played throughout the 2010-11 season and beyond during Fleming’s tenure.

It came as no surprise then, that the five participating Lightning players, who according to Lecavalier raised a combined total of $150,000, shaved their heads in honor of both Fleming and Moore, as well as another individual, 11-year-old Toner Colton.

“It puts everything in perspective,” Purcell said. “We play a game for a living, but these individuals are the ones actually battling for their lives. A lot of them are in tough situations, but an event like this always makes them smile and you get to see how much fun they’re having, so anytime you can have an impact like that is always nice.”

Generally speaking, the funds raised are set to be contributed to medical research, programming and pediatric care for children and their families fighting cancer and blood disorders. To date, the 2013 Cut For A Cure campaign has raised over $337,000.

Bolts fans throughout the Bay Area are also encouraged to join in the cause by donating money in support of the Lightning players by logging on to and proceeding to scroll down the page until coming across Team Lightning. By clicking “Support This Team” fans may enter any desirable monetary value and submit their donation. Participants are also advised to help spread the word to friends and family.

While the overall goal of the event is to raise the highest total of funds possible, the night also was telling in the sense of the amount of support from members of the community who recognize the struggles that chronically ill individuals have had to endure. In addition, it also provided those in attendance with a chance to kick back, relax and just have fun.

“It was great to see,” Crombeen said. “We all really enjoyed it, and it seemed like all of the other participants did too. It’s a challenge for anyone battling any disease, so to come out in support of fighting cancer was really an easy decision, and hopefully what we did here tonight can make a difference.”

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