It was a full house at the Yerrid Foundation meet and greet after the Lightning game Friday night. The kids in the yellow t-shirts couldn’t have been happier; and not just because the Lightning had defeated the Nashville Predators; the ninth consecutive time the Bolts have skated to a win on the on the night the Yerrid Foundation and Lightning Foundation team for the Tampa Fights Cancer event.
Sure, the win added to the festivities, but these kids would have been happy even if the Lightning had lost. Because, more than the rest of us, these special kids know it’s not just about winning and losing, but getting up and battling every day is what counts the most.
They certainly have to battle more than most kids. They, their parents and their siblings; cancer touches them all.
So there they were, lots of happy kids, lots of proud parents and lots of volunteers waiting for the Lightning players to stop in and visit, and while they waited they laughed, hugged and took pictures of each other. Steve Yerrid, founder of the Yerrid Foundation, went from table to table, greeting each group.
“It’s a night of normalcy for these kids, watching some great athletes compete on the ice,” Yerrid said. “They know this is just a game, but they have a real battle for their lives.”
As the players drifted in, one-by-one, Yerrid greeted each at the door and announced their names to the crowd. The kids burst into applause.
Andrej Meszaros, Radim Vrbata, Gary Roberts and more; each went from group to group, spreading a message of hope and encouragement.
To date, the Yerrid Foundation has touched the lives of over 35,000 young cancer victims in our area, and the man behind the Foundation says he gets a lot more from it than he could ever give.
“I’ve been blessed and it means so much to give back,” Yerrid explained. “The yellow shirts stand for Sunshine, a ray of hope, a mark of hope we all share”.
As the players circulated through the room, posing for pictures and signing pucks and shirts, they initially seemed shy, but the kids certainly did not.
“Do you want an autograph?” Radim Vrbata asked one young girl.
“No,” she replied, “I want a hug.”
And she got one, too.
And anyone watching couldn’t help but feel that the players were getting back more than they were giving on this special night.