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Jakub Voracek of Flyers can relate to Bryan Bickell

Forward started foundation to help those with multiple sclerosis after sister was diagnosed in 2015

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek was given reason to smile Tuesday upon hearing the news that forward Bryan Bickell returned to the Carolina Hurricanes lineup for the first time since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis on Nov. 10.

Voracek doesn't know Bickell on a personal level, but he understands what he's had to endure the past five months. Voracek's sister, Petra, was diagnosed with MS in September 2015. His mission since then has been to help educate about the disease. 

"If you don't follow the disease you really don't know what it's about," Voracek said. "It's not easy to live with, and it's certainly not easy to play any kind of professional sport with it. It's pretty impressive that [Bickell] still has an opportunity to do that. Hopefully he's got the right medication and is getting the right treatment.

"It's something you don't want to see anybody go through and I wish him nothing but the best."

 

[RELATED: Bryan Bickell returns to NHL after MS diagnosis]

 

Bickell played 12:35 and had three hits in a 5-3 loss at the Minnesota Wild, his first NHL game since Oct. 30 against the Flyers at PNC Arena. Bickell was listed as a healthy scratch the next three games and on Nov. 8, after struggling with numbness and some dizziness, pulled himself off the ice during the Hurricanes' morning skate at Prudential Center.

"You just think about all the thoughts and all the things you've gone through to get to this moment," Bickell said after the game. "The people that reach out and help and the support, it means a lot for all those people to get me to where I am now, and I'm happy to be back here and just take it game by game and move on to the next one."

After learning his sister was diagnosed, Voracek helped launch the Jakub Voracek Foundation in the Czech Republic to help patients with MS, a chronic neurological condition that affects the central nervous system. More than 200 people are diagnosed with MS each week, according to MSFocus.org.

"The foundation is going well," Voracek said. "We've helped a lot of people the past couple of years and it's getting better and better. Everyone wants to be involved and it's for a good cause. When you get the emails from the people thanking you for helping them get a new medication for treatment, that's the satisfaction and that's the reason we do it."

Since 2015-16, Voracek has donated $1,000 for every point accumulated in the regular season to the foundation. He has contributed $115,000 on 115 points the past two seasons.

"When we first heard that my sister had MS, it was a shock, it was very tough on the family," Voracek said. "But the first thing I said to her was it could be worse. There are people dying of brain tumors and cancer out there. They caught it early enough in her and now she just has to go and battle through it. Just like [Bickell] has been doing."

Voracek said his 41-year-old sister runs the foundation during the NHL season.

"We talk often about the business, what's the approach and where the money goes, so it's interesting," he said. "When I get home (to Kladno, Czech Republic) I kind of oversee a couple things and we go from there."

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