PHILADELPHIA -- Eddie Olczyk said he was proud to wear an OskarStrong T-shirt prior to broadcasting the "Wednesday Night Hockey" game between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
The shirts, produced by Biscuit Tees and owners Kim Parent and Jodi Smith, are in honor of Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom, who is battling Ewing's sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. Olczyk is a survivor of colon cancer, so he understands some of what Lindblom is going through.
"It's important that when you are in the battle that you know you have your friends and the hockey community behind you whether you know the people or not," Olczyk said. "It means a lot, because you have enough quiet time to last a lifetime when you're sick. And when you know there are people out there asking about you or calling you or texting you, what Kim and Jodi have been able to accomplish, and seeing all the support throughout the League, the teams wearing the T-shirts.
"Having gone through cancer, obviously in a different manner, it hits home, it's emotional. You want the best for anybody, whether you know them or not. Oskar is such a young guy, and besides the hockey player I know the respect he has in the organization and his teammates. Whatever I can do, whatever we can do, just be there and to be able to wear this shirt is very humbling."
Biscuit Tees began selling the shirts since Dec. 16, three days after the Flyers announced Lindblom's diagnosis, with all proceeds going to Hockey Fights Cancer. Parent and Smith said they have donated more than $200,000.
"At first we were like, 'Maybe we could raise $25,000. That would be crazy,'" Smith said. "It's crazy. What have we done? It's been awesome."
Smith and Parent, the daughter of Hockey Hall of Fame goalie Bernie Parent, formed Biscuit Tees about a year ago, and they remain the only two full-time employees. Their shipping office is the basement of Parent's mother's home, and they said that although the work has been overwhelming, it's also been fulfilling.
"There are moments where it hits us," Parent said. "Like when we were sitting in my mom's basement, the dungeon, when we saw the picture of [New Jersey Devils forward] Wayne [Simmonds] and the Devils, that we both literally broke down in tears of gratitude for what these guys are doing and showing their support for him and that we can be a part of it. It hits us in waves, then we're back in the zone and then it hits us again."
In addition to Simmonds and the Devils, players from the New York Rangers and Arizona Coyotes have worn the shirts. Capitals forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Carl Hagelin wore them Wednesday.
Olczyk said he's spoken to Lindblom to offer his support, and to remind him that he's not alone in his fight against cancer.
"He may know who I am, he may not, but I just wanted to let him know that I'm with him, praying for him," Olczyk said. "From an old hockey guy to a current hockey guy, there's that bond regardless of where I'm from, he's from, doesn't matter. But it's important."