LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights welcomed the chance to spend time with young cancer patients on Saturday.
The players met with about 50 children at the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation and joined them for arts and crafts. The visit was part of Hockey Fights Cancer, a joint initiative between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association taking place throughout November.
"This was an event that you didn't have to ask anybody [to go to]," defenseman Nate Schmidt said. "A lot of guys wanted to come out today because it's a lot of fun. Anytime you can work with kids, it's a win-win."
Three rows of four tables were placed across the arts-and-crafts room, where the Golden Knights painting T-shirts with the kids. Some players, like Schmidt and defenseman Brad Hunt, slathered paint on their hands and created hand turkeys.
Though some Vegas players aren't natural artists, this was more about the purpose of being there rather than channeling their inner Picasso.
"You come here, and you see the smiles on their faces," Hunt said. "Some of them are going through difficult times, but you see the smile on their face and you realize how fortunate we are and how special we can make someone's day."
Rubi Vegas, 18, has been diagnosed with liver cancer twice, at age 6 and age 11. She said she is in remission, but that cancer took a toll on her family again recently when her mother died of the disease this past summer after being diagnosed in 2016.
The oldest of five sisters, Vegas said cancer forced her to mature quickly. That was heightened when she and her sisters had to take care of their mother.
"Having to see her sick was tough on all of us," Vegas said. "She was there through all my pain and my suffering, through treatment and all. So, I had to take her place and she had to take my place. It was a tough ride, but we're glad she's not suffering."
She said it meant a lot for the Golden Knights to visit the other children at the foundation, which provides programs and services to patients and their families.
"It's hard for them to walk around here and feel like they belong," Vegas said. "Just having that little moment of joy and happiness makes their day and reminds them to keep fighting."