DETROIT — Three times this season, Stephen Weiss has hosted a pediatric cancer patient and his/her family in a 20-person suite for a game at Joe Louis Arena. His efforts through the Weiss’ Warriors player initiative are something that started during his days in Florida.
“We used to go visit on the standard hospital visits that teams do,” Weiss said. “I just felt comfortable with that (helping young children). I used to visit kids like that quite a bit.”
Working with children was one of the first causes that came to mind for Weiss, so spending time with pediatric patients helps keep things in perspective for the Red Wings forward.
“I always wanted to have something like this where you could bring kids to a game and go up and see them after,” he said. “It didn’t pan out last year but to get a chance to do it this year was fantastic. “
The initiative donated the suite on three separate occasions to three different foundations including Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit, Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan and Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan. Each foundation selected the patient and family and Weiss met with the families at the conclusion of the game, providing a gift basket and signing autographs.
Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit creates a free cancer support community for people with cancer, their families and friends. In a three-story non-residential house in Royal Oak, Mich., Gilda’s Club has welcomed more than 10,000 members for social and emotional support since 1998.
Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan is a non-profit wellness center and salon that provides wigs and other services at no charge to children and young adults experiencing hair loss due to cancer, alopecia, trichotillomania burns and other disorders. Clients range in ages from three to 18 and are located throughout Michigan.
Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan is an organization that provides information financial assistance and emotional support to Michigan families affected by leukemia, lymphoma and related blood disorders. CLF offers a variety of services that help to meet the needs of its patients and families.
“What I hope they get out of it is just a change of pace,” Weiss said. “It can be a little monotonous going to the hospital every day and doing your treatments and not getting a chance to get out much. So to get a night out and come to a Wings game — which is obviously pretty popular in this area — is huge for them. They were super excited … It really isn’t about me, it gives you a good feeling no doubt about it to be able to help them that way and just do something to make them feel better and put a smile on their face but really, you’re just doing it for them.”