RALEIGH, N.C. -- Since learning Nov. 10 that he has multiple sclerosis, Carolina Hurricanes left wing Bryan Bickell has fueled his optimism about living with the neurological disorder and someday resuming his NHL career by turning a negative into a positive.
One way he intends to do that is by becoming involved in charity work, including a Walk MS fundraising event around the PNC Arena complex, where the Hurricanes play their home games, on April 8. Bickell and his wife, Amanda, also would like to incorporate their love of dogs.
While Bickell was playing for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2012, they founded the Bryan and Amanda Bickell Foundation for pit bull-type dogs who were victims of neglect, abuse or abandonment. Through their research, Bickell said he had his wife learned about people with MS using therapy dogs.
"So maybe we can kind of lead everything together," he said.
Video: Bickell on fighting MS and getting back on the ice
The Bickells already have seen how rescued pit bulls have been effective as therapy dogs with children who have been victims of abuse or bullying through their "Paws for Strength" and "Bullies Against Bullying" programs. Now they're learning how therapy dogs can help those with MS.
"We actually found a ton of articles about people who said therapy dogs helped them with MS with things like stability," Amanda Bickell said. "Their dog is always beside them, helps them walk up and down the stairs and get up, sit down, all that type of stuff. So we've talked about and are in the process of researching a trainer to start training therapy dogs.
"We decided we didn't want to do just MS, but anybody who has any type of disease can come to us and we can train a dog specific to their needs."
Read: Bryan Bickell taking life with MS one day at a time