Hockey and breast cancer generally do not go hand-in-hand, but for the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, it is a match made in heaven.
The 13th annual Tri-City Americans Breast Cancer Awareness Game is Saturday against the Prince George Cougars. It also the 13th year the team has partnered with the Cancer Center to help the community.
“This is so great,” said Liz McLaughlin, director of the Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation. “The Americans were the first ones to have pink ice in the Western Hockey League, and look at what a huge legacy that has created. Not just for us, but how many organizations in the Pacific Northwest and all over in the Western Hockey League have benefited from this event? For us to be the charity the Americans chose to work with, and they are the pioneers of doing this, feels incredible. We have this army of people behind us. The Americans are such an important part of this.”
The Americans have helped raise more than $2 million for charities over the past seven years. They’ve raised $225,000 over the past 12 years for the Cancer Center through jersey auctions, silent auctions, T-shirt sales and signed pink puck sales.
This year, the jersey auction will have a minimum bid is $300, with a buy-it-now price of $800. The auction will run until the start of the third period.
T-shirts will be on sale for $20 on the concourse, along with a silent auction behind Section J that will have gift baskets, Americans memorabilia and more.
“That is a testament to the Americans as an organization, from the owners all the way down to the players,” McLaughlin said. “The fans coming out wanting to buy jerseys year after year. We have two really great volunteers who help us and attend other events. They are (Americans) season ticket holders and they have bought a jersey every year. They let us use their jerseys so that our Warrior Sisterhood can wear past year’s jerseys on the ice for the ceremonial puck drop. All of those things combined — owners, players, fans — that is a power thing to be able to raise $225,000.”
Some of the Americans players took a tour of the Cancer Center on Thursday, and forward Jordan Topping said he was impressed with the technology available to patients.
“It was kind of cool to tour their center,” Topping said. “There was some cool technology to see. They explained to us some of the things they do there. The things the patients go through is pretty strenuous. The Breast Cancer Awareness night is pretty fun. It’s nice to be able to raise money, and we like taking part in the games.
“The pink ice is a bit of an adjustment, but you get used to it as the game goes along.”
It’s nice to be able to raise money, and we like taking part in the games. The pink ice is a bit of an adjustment, but you get used to it as the game goes along.
Jordan Topping, Americans hockey player
The money raised from each Breast Cancer Awareness Game is used for two different services.
The first provides support services and cancer patients and their families. Included in that is patient navigation, nurse navigation, wigs, hats and breast prosthetics that are available in the resource center. Money also helps provide materials for the library, chaplain services and capital purchases that make a difference in treatment.
Part of the patient and nurse navigation services helps put patients in touch with programs like Warrior Sisterhood, where women can share their troubles, vent their frustrations, or meet for a cup of coffee.
Money that is being raised on Saturday night is going to save people’s lives. I think that is an incredible to thing to say when you are buying a jersey, buying a T-shirt, buying a puck.
Liz McLaughlin, director of the Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation
“It is important to have people in your life who have gone through what you are going through,” said Misty Ovens, co-founder of the group. “You can lean on them instead of burdening your family, which is going through so much as it is. We have almost 200 ladies who can meet you for coffee or bring you a meal.”
The second service involves programs offered to improve the health of the community, like the free mammograms, cervical screenings, and educational materials. The Cancer Center provided 365 mammograms in 2016, and around the same amount last year.
“Money that is being raised on Saturday night is going to save people’s lives,” McLaughlin said. “I think that is an incredible to thing to say when you are buying a jersey, buying a T-shirt, buying a puck. Because of the Americans and our community, no one will fight cancer alone.”