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Breast Cancer Awareness Night is Oct. 12

by Christy Hammond / Detroit Red Wings

DETROIT –  The Detroit Red Wings hold an annual Breast Cancer Awareness Night game each October to raise funds to help uninsured and underinsured women receive diagnostic screening and treatment at two local cancer centers: Karmanos Cancer Institute (Weisberg Cancer Treatment Center in Farmington Hills) and St. John Providence Health System (Liggett Breast Center in Grosse Pointe).

Since 2008, the Red Wings have raised more than $160,000 for local breast cancer causes and hosted more than 175 breast cancer patients and survivors at the annual Breast Cancer Awareness Night game.

Over $74,000 has been distributed by the Detroit Red Wings Foundation through a grant process to Michigan hockey families affected by breast cancer to assist with non-medical expenses they incurred during treatment. The remaining funds have been donated to Liggett Breast Center and Weisberg Cancer Treatment Center.

2010 was a landmark year for the Wings annual event. That year, the funds raised paid for 135 women to receive diagnostic screening at Liggett Breast Center. These uninsured and under-insured women would not have been able to afford the screening, had the funds from Breast Cancer Awareness night not been there. Two of those 135 women were diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.

This year’s Breast Cancer Awareness night takes place Saturday, October 12th as the Wings host the Flyers. The first 7,500 fans in attendance can claim a pink and cream BCA night tote bag courtesy of the evening’s presenting partner, Team Rehab. Other events on Saturday include a mystery puck draw, silent auction, 50/50 raffle, specially themed video and the return of the annual “Survivor Suite” and in-game welcome.

Six of the players’ significant others will be selling pucks as part of the mystery puck draw when doors open. For $25, fans will have a chance to draw from an assortment of 300 hockey pucks signed by members of the 2013-14 team. Each puck has been signed by a Red Wings player and packaged in a black box to conceal the autograph.

The fan who opens the box with a puck signed in gold by Jimmy Howard will meet the Red Wings starting goaltender after the game, while the fan who opens the box with a puck signed in silver by Howard will receive a one-of-a-kind autographed and framed 8” x 10” photo of the goaltender using a stick with pink hockey tape at the 2011 BCA Night.

Each year, the Wings welcome 40 breast cancer patients and survivors to the “Survivor Suite” where they are treated to a ride down to Joe Louis Arena in a party bus, a ticket to the game, food and beverage and a goody bag courtesy of the Red Wings. The survivors are also welcomed in-game on the video board at Joe Louis Arena.

Survivor Suite participant and breast cancer survivor Dena Norrod knows the power of community events such as these. “I think it’s one of those nights where the bonds are almost immediate,” Norrod explained. “We are all going through those things right there in that moment or that we’ve all been through those tough treatment months or we’re dealing with the side effects of the medication or we’re just trying to live whatever that new normal is after you go through cancer…It’s almost a conflicted night for me because I, of course, want to watch the hockey game, but it’s also very difficult to not want to meet the other women more.”

Norrod was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer as a result of what she thought was a pulled muscle in her chest in March 2011, just five days shy of her 32nd birthday. Her treatment included a double mastectomy, two mediports, six rounds of chemotherapy, 32 rounds of Herceptin and six weeks of daily radiation. She finished her treatment in May 2012 and is now cancer free.

“I’ve always been a huge Red Wings fan and about the time I was diagnosed was the time the Red Wings came out with the ribbons at Hockeytown that looked like hockey sticks,” Norrod said, “so that kind of became the symbol for everyone’s support in me getting through the treatments. I think we bought about 50 of those pins and my family all wore them during my entire nine months of treatment.”

Norrod was invited to attend the “Survivor Suite” in 2011 because the nurses at Karmanos knew she was a huge Red Wings fan; evident by the Red Wings fleece blanket with her to all her chemo treatments. After meeting Chelios at Weisberg Cancer Treatment Center, she jokingly told a social worker that meeting him was one of the best side effects of being diagnosed with cancer.

“It was just such a huge comfort to me knowing that my favorite team supported a cause that I was battling and that my family could have that outward sign to help as I went through those tough treatments,” Norrod said.

Wings fans can participate in the Wings Breast Cancer Awareness Night fundraising efforts by bidding on Wings players’ sticks wrapped in pink tape and used during warm ups on the concourse behind Section 126 on Saturday, October 12. Fans will have the opportunity to bid on a set of Jimmy Howard’s pink and white catcher and blocker online at a later date.

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