In celebration of his contributions to the Oilers legacy and dedication to the fight against cancer, star forward Glenn Anderson returned to the Edmonton spotlight Wednesday morning – a spotlight he willingly shared with the patients and staff of the Cross Cancer Institute (CCI) and one very special guest.
In the CCI’s main atrium, Oilers spokesperson Allan Watt started the emotional ceremony by announcing the retirement of Anderson’s #9 in a January 18th pre-game ceremony.
“This year, Glenn Anderson will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame,” Watt began. “No player dares dream that he will one day be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but we all know Glenn’s achievements as an Oiler, as a hockey player, as a contributor.”
“Never in a million years would I have dreamed as a kid growing up that this could ever be possible,” Anderson added. “You could dream that you can travel the world and that you want to be a hockey player, but as far as having your number raised to the rafters or being inducted to the Hall of Fame, that’s almost beyond dreams.”
While his on-ice accomplishments are well-documented, it was Anderson’s off-ice efforts that stirred emotions at the CCI announcement. According to longtime Oilers supporter Bob Bentley, Anderson’s 10-goal offensive contribution in the 1985 Stanley Cup Playoffs boosted the hockey club’s first-ever “goals for cancer” initiative to the $15,000 mark.
Now, over 23 years and countless hospital visits later, Anderson is Honourary Chair for the club’s newest community initiative: Oilers Score for Prostate Cancer Research. As part of the innovative program, Oilers fans can pledge an amount for every goal scored by the Oilers during the upcoming regular season to be used towards prostate cancer research and treatment. Oilers players scored 235 regular season goals last season, and the club is aiming for 250 in 2008-09.
“This fundraising endeavor has the potential to raise a lot of money for prostate cancer research,” speaker Cal Nichols explained. “I’d like to thank Glenn for all the work he’s done here at the Cross. Looking back more than 20 years, although this was a very serious project and commitment, every day of getting out and trying to make this work with Glenn was a lot of fun. He made this work.”
While Anderson’s past and current fundraising efforts received resounding applause, it was a surprise guest who triggered tears in the crowd. Alicia Maryniuk was only four years old and battling leukemia when she first met Anderson – and the Stanley Cup – at the CCI in 1985. While propped up on the cup, the giddy girl posed beside the mustached Anderson for a photo that would make front pages across the country.
At Wednesday’s announcement, Anderson and Maryniuk – now a 28-year-old mother of two – were reunited for the first time.
“It’s a privilege that I’ve been asked here today to honour Glenn and to reunite with him after 23 years. I’m so grateful for all he continues to do and for the lives he’s touched over so many ears,” Maryniuk said. “I thought Wayne Gretzky would like to have my autograph knowing I was Glenn’s wingman on that special day.”
For Anderson, reuniting with Maryniuk was “a great surprise.”
“You fight and you battle and you fight through everything that you have to, adversity, and there’s a true champion right there. You can’t put that into words. In my heart, that’s what it takes to win,” he said. “Everytime I come here, it’s just so much power and strength through family. It’s so special in my heart.”
“As you look around here, I think we have accomplished one goal, but also on the other hand, are setting another goal. I’m very honoured to be part of that.”