DETROIT — Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith is the team spokesperson for Breast Cancer Awareness Night, a title he carries with great pride in honor of the loved ones that have been affected by the disease.
“I know how it felt (to be affected) so if I can do anything to give back to that, it’s awesome to be able to do that and then have the resources that I have here,” Smith said.
Having had not one, but two grandparents diagnosed with breast cancer, Smith shares in the sorrows and struggles of one of the nation’s most common forms of cancer.
As a professional athlete, Smith has a unique platform to have an impact and encourage others to join in a cause in constant need of support. All 30 NHL teams participate in Hockey Fights Cancer Month in which many of the teams host a Breast Cancer Awareness Night at select home games around the league.
“I think it’s amazing, I think just bringing more awareness to it,” Smith said. “You see it not only in our league, you see it in the NFL, you see it in basketball, you see it everywhere. It’s just so cool to see that. It’s an ongoing thing and I think the numbers are getting higher, right? So as long as we can keep doing what we do…in the meantime, whatever I can do to give back, that’s what I try to do.”
The Wings hosted the eighth annual Breast Cancer Awareness Night on Oct. 11, against the Anaheim Ducks where Smith welcomed 10 two-time patients and survivors to a suite to enjoy the game. Additionally, Henrik Zetterberg hosted breast cancer patients and their families in the Zetterberg Foundation Suite while goalie Jimmy Howard donned a pink goalie mask that was later auctioned off as well as all of the players’ hockey sticks used in warm-ups that were dressed in pink hockey tape.
The auction took place behind section 126 on the Joe Louis Arena concourse in addition to funds that were raised from the selling of black-cuffed winter knit hats and autographed hockey pucks. The Wings also acknowledged all of those in the crowd affected by cancer with a video that played on the scoreboard. Thanks to the effort of fans, more than $48,000 has been raised this season to help benefit the Karmanos Cancer Institute.
Clearly a team effort, Smith is one of many players in the league actively involved in the cause. As team spokesperson, though, Smith feels a certain responsibility to be at the forefront as the Wings representative.
“In my case, it’s touched me a little bit more so that’s why I feel a little bit closer to that,” he said. “Maybe that’s why I’ve done a little bit more and that’s how it’s happened but for sure, it’s a huge honor to be a part of that and be the spokesperson for that.”