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'Hockey Fights Cancer' bell stand has special meaning for arena carpenter

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

When 16-year-old Daisy Romano officially rang her "End-of-Treatment Bell" during the Penguins' 'Hockey Fights Cancer' night on Nov. 16, Cliff Weigand - a carpenter at PPG Paints Arena - was watching and smiling for a number of reasons.

Tweet from @penguins: Ring it loud. Ring it proud. 🔔Daisy Romano is CANCER FREE! #HockeyFightsCancer pic.twitter.com/wiq4NArutf

He was happy for Romano, who was declared cancer-free from ovarian cancer on Oct. 18.

He was proud of the work he had done alongside lead carpenter Steve Bean to build the stand the bell hangs from the week leading up to the game against Toronto.

And most of all, it was a lovely tribute to his late brother Dennis, who passed away on Aug. 30 after a battle with prostate cancer.

After the bell stand was completed, the Penguins presented Weigand with a plaque that read, "May this bell ring in loving memory of Dennis J. Weigand, created by his brother Cliff Weigand Jr., PPG Paints Arena, 2019."

"It meant a lot to me," Weigand said. "I got a little emotional. I was choked up a little bit. I liked it."

Weigand has been working at PPG Paints Arena for just over a year, starting around Labor Day of 2018. His job duties involve woodworking, fixing furniture, piping and draping and skirting tables - really anything maintenance-related.

Lately, Weigand been working on a lot of projects, like putting new counters in the dining area of the Penguins locker room and doing some renovations to the coaches' offices.

When this particular project came up, it meant a lot for Weigand to get the chance to work on it with how cancer has affected his life. Not only did he recently lose Dennis to cancer, their father Cliff Sr. passed away in 1998 after a battle with leukemia.

"It was kind of neat when this came up that it was for Hockey Fights Cancer," Cliff Jr. said.

Dennis was first diagnosed in September of 2015, and at that point the cancer - which was an aggressive form - was already at Stage 4 and had spread to his hip and thigh bone.

"Over the four years, he did get some treatments that worked and some that didn't," Weigand said. "This past summer, he had a rough summer."

Dennis' 53rd birthday was on Aug. 28, and his goal was to make it to that milestone. On that Wednesday, Cliff, their mother and a few other relatives gathered to celebrate Dennis' birthday.

"He was in hospice, but we had probably about 10 people there," Cliff said. "He was awake and alert, and so we had about an hour or so with all of my relatives there before he got tired and fell asleep. That was on a Wednesday and he died going into Friday morning that week."

Weigand still gets emotional talking about Dennis, his younger brother by a year-and-a-half who had a great sense of humor and had a number of hobbies that he was passionate about.

Dennis worked mostly as a florist and later got into photography, which was his main hobby. He would take pictures of arrangements at work and also did wildlife photography on the side.

When Weigand's three children were growing up, Dennis would be at all of their sporting events taking photos of them. He was also a Penguins fan, but unfortunately never made it to a game at PPG Paints Arena before he passed.

"I told Steve, when I got surprised with that plaque, it meant a lot because he had never made it down into the building," Cliff said. "I was like, if he's on that, he's going to be here all the time. It turned out pretty neat."

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