|Erin Phillips, wife of Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, and Evan Simms, a cancer patient at CHEO, share a smile while looking some photos during the team's practice Wednesday morning. Evan will be a special guest at Thursday's Senators-Tampa Bay Lighting game, which is also Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night at Scotiabank Place.
The joy in young Evan Simms' face was clearly evident as he snapped photos of some of his hockey heroes.
"Awesome," the 10-year-old cancer patient at CHEO said about taking in a Senators practice at Scotiabank Place on Wednesday morning. "It's nice."
Evan and six-year-old Jacob Randell of Aylmer, a cancer survivor, and their families were treated to a special morning at the rink by Erin Phillips and Teresa Donovan, the wives of two Sens players. Besides watching practice, they also got a peek inside the team's dressing room before they departed.
Thursday night, Evan and Jacob will attend the Senators' game against the Tampa Bay Lightning along with 17-year-old Ashley Backstrom, also a cancer survivor, and her family.
The occasion is the annual Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night, which is held each season to promote and raise funds for the National Hockey League-wide campaign. Senators wives and girlfriends will be selling autographed Hockey Fights Cancer hats ($35) and ties ($75), along with Reflections on a Hockey Season
photo books ($50) at the Gate 1 and 2 entrances of Scotiabank Place, with all proceeds from the sale going to support Hockey Fights Cancer.
"Any chance you have that you can make a difference and raise awareness (is good)," said Phillips. "Recently, there have been ads saying that every three minutes, a Canadian has been diagnosed with cancer. You never know who that's going to be. Everybody seems to be affected one way, whether it's yourself or someone dear to you."
Added Donovan: "It's a small thing we're doing to help out. I think everybody in their lives has been affected somehow by someone with cancer. It's a very important cause for all of us to be behind."
"It's a small thing we're doing to help out. I think everybody in their lives has been affected somehow by someone with cancer. It's a very important cause for all of us to be behind." - Teresa Donovan
Seeing the youngsters in front of them – one whose cancer is in remission, the other in the middle of the fight – merely adds emphasis to that thought. But Wednesday morning was a time for smiles and hockey.
"This is amazing. I love it," said Jason Randell, whose son spent several months last winter undergoing treatment at CHEO for a brain tumour.
Jacob, who received visits from Senators players Brian Lee, Brendan Bell, Jarkko Ruutu and Mike Fisher during his hospital stay, doesn't have a favourite Senators player, his dad said.
"He likes a bunch of them," said Jason. "He liked it when Mike Fisher came (with his girlfriend, Carrie Underwood, in March). He enjoyed that visit."
Evan, meanwhile, has a soft spot for Chris Neil
and Cody Bass, who paid him a visit at Roger's House in February, the latter doing so while on crutches. He proudly showed off the autographs he got from them on his Sens jersey and hat.
"(Neil) asked me how it was going and told me how brave I was," said Evan. "All of that."To learn more about the NHL's Hockey Fights Cancer campaign, click here.