DETROIT — It started when Jakub Kindl was just a kid. His mother, Jana, had been battling cancer for nearly five years in the Czech Republic before passing away when Jakub was 14 years old.
Now in Detroit some 13 years later, Jakub finds himself in a position to have a positive impact following a very painful loss. After witnessing first-hand the struggles cancer and recovery can have on a patient, Jakub used his status to be proactive and developed Kindl’s Krew — a player program that provides cancer patients or survivors with tickets to each of the Red Wings home games.
“It all started with my mom,” Kindl said. “She passed away when I was young. She went through the cancer and obviously she battled through it but that’s the reason why I talked to (the community relations department) and asked if there was any opportunity for me to come up with my own program.”
Familiar with the difficulties cancer and cancer treatment presents, Kindl wanted to provide patients with the opportunity to get away, even if it was just for the day.
“I hope they enjoy it,” he said. “I can’t even describe what they are going through so I just try to make sure they can at least enjoy one day of being out of the hospital or treatment. My job is just to put a smile on their face.”
Kindl’s Krew is one of 24 Red Wings community programs with a player or coach attached to it. There is a strong emphasis placed on the locker room, encouraging players to be active in the community and engage with the people of Detroit. Partnering with the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Kindl chose to host one cancer patient or survivor and his or her guest at each home game.
The Karmanos Cancer Institute is a unique, integrated center of research, patient care and education. Located in the Detroit Medical Center in the downtown area, the institute is dedicated to the prevention, early detection, treatment and eventual eradication of cancer.
Karmanos is the only hospital in Michigan dedicated exclusively to fighting cancer. The center cares for more than 6,000 new patients annually and works with hundreds of doctors to arrange for convenient care for patients and families.
For Kindl, being able to provide a helping hand in another person’s fight against cancer is something special that he felt honored to be a part of. To honor the memory of his mother, he tries to relieve some of the stress other people struggle with by treating them to a night out at the rink.
“Sometimes, I have a chance to even meet the patients,” he said. “I try to bring them down to a game so they can enjoy it. Try to put a smile on their face so they don’t have to think about what they’re going through.”