Fans taking in NHL games in late October and early November may see a new color being worn by their favorite teams as ties, stick tape, helmet decals and even special warm-up jerseys turn lavender in recognition of the annual Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Campaign. The Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Campaign, which began Oct. 20 and runs through Nov. 17, has been a National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) initiative since 1998 and helps raise awareness for both national cancer fighting organizations and local organizations specific to each team’s city.
“[Cancer] is something that touches just about everybody in their lives,” Preds forward Matt Cullen said. “Whether it’s a family member or a friend, [Hockey Fights Cancer] is something we can all get behind and it puts a lot more behind it when it’s the entire League as opposed to when it’s just a player.”
League-wide, in an effort to help fund and raise awareness, Hockey Fights Cancer has partnered with and donated to five cancer-fighting campaigns; Movember (men’s health, specifically prostate and testicular cancer), The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (pediatric, young adult blood cancer research), Prostate Cancer Canada (prostate cancer research), ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer (providing free mobile testing in select markets) and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (pancreatic cancer research). Hockey Fights Cancer also donates $5,000 to each NHL club to help support cancer organizations in their cities.
“I think [Hockey Fights Cancer] raises more awareness,” Preds forward Colin Wilson said. “Like we saw this summer with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, when a lot of people get involved, it can be a very powerful thing. For a whole League to get involved and create more awareness, it’s great.”
When the Nashville Predators host their Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night on Nov. 15 against the Winnipeg Jets, the game will be full of unique moments like a ceremonial first puck drop, special intermission Ford Band Stage guests and lavender jerseys the entire Preds team will wear during the warm-up skate. In addition to these special game features that raise awareness for the fight against cancer, silent and blind auctions, mystery pucks and fan donations will all raise money specifically for the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Dollar General.
The 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Dollar General helps fund pediatric cancer research at Nashville’s Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Since the Fund’s inception in 2010, the Preds have made donations totaling more than $800,000 to the hospital, including more than $318,000 that was raised during the 2013-14 season.
In addition to their involvement with the Children’s Hospital through the 365 Fund, Nashville Predators players frequently make trips to the hospital to visit, take photos and sign autographs for the patients and their families.
“On a personal level, every single person has been affected by cancer and it’s always nice to give back,” Wilson said. “It’s great to go to Children’s Hospital and talk to the kids there and try to make their day a little bit better.”
Derek Roy has been a member of several NHL franchises, and with each team, has seen the positive effects that visits have on those fighting this terrible disease.
“It’s great to give back and give awareness,” Roy said. “For the guys and all the teams I’ve played for, everybody really loves doing it; we love the community work and the little things that will make it easier for people in that situation.”
Teams and players battle on the ice night in and night out, but when it comes to the bigger battle against a disease like cancer, everyone across the League joins to fight together.
“It’s something that means a lot to us,” Cullen said. “And we’re all proud that we can be a part of it.”
About Hockey Fights Cancer™
Hockey Fights Cancer™ is a charitable initiative founded in December 1998 by the National Hockey League® and National Hockey League Players’ Association. It is supported by players, NHL member clubs, NHL alumni, the NHL Officials’ Association, professional hockey athletic trainers and equipment managers, corporate marketing partners, broadcast partners and fans throughout North America. The goal of Hockey Fights Cancer is to raise money and awareness for national and local organizations involved in cancer care and research. To date, through the Hockey Fights Cancer initiative, the NHL's US and Canadian charitable foundations and NHL supporters and fans have donated more than $14 million to support national and local cancer research institutions, children's hospitals, player charities and local cancer organizations. Hockey Fights Cancer is also a component of The Biggest Assist Happens Off The Ice®, the National Hockey League’s and National Hockey League Players’ Association’s social responsibility program that builds on hockey’s long-standing tradition of addressing important social issues in North America and around the world. For more information about Hockey Fights Cancer, please go to hockeyfightscancer.com.