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NHL Fights Cancer Brings Joy to Tampa Hope Lodge

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) -The Tampa Bay Lightning and the NHL Fights Cancer initiative joined forces to bring joy to the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge Thursday.

Patients gathered outside to take photos with the league’s iconic trophy, the Stanley Cup, as well as the Bolts’ mascot Thunderbug, 2004 Stanley Cup Champion and Vice President of Corporate and Community Affairs Dave Andreychuk, and the man of the season himself, Santa.

Tampa Bay Lightning mascot Thunderbug (left) and Santa Claus pose with the Stanley Cup trophy. Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

Tampa Bay Lightning mascot Thunderbug (left) and Santa Claus pose with the Stanley Cup trophy. Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

 

It’s just one of the many stops nationwide and in Canada for the Stanley Cup as the NHL and NHLPA team up to share the mission that nobody has to fight this terrible disease alone. To date, Hockey Fights Cancer has raised over $30 million.

“Everyone’s been touched by cancer and our players, teams, and clubs are no different,” said Matt Langen, Manager of Community Relations for the NHLPA. “The players get a great opportunity to celebrate this great trophy that has so much history. It takes a lot of time and a lot of hard work to win this thing and when you go through treatments it’s the same way.”

It was an extra special day for those at the Tampa Hope Lodge which reopened its doors in September. The NHL Fights Cancer event marked the first of its kind for the guests, caretakers, and staff since before COVID, making a deep impact on all of those going through a cancer diagnosis and others in attendance.

“Having the Stanley Cup arrive, having Dave Andreychuk and Thunderbug, this was very uplifting, not just for our guests, and our caregivers, but also for our staff,” said Barbara Twible, Senior Manager of the Tampa Hope Lodge. “It’s life-giving, it’s hope-filled, and that’s what the Hope Lodge is all about.”

For Hope Lodge patient Reginald Andrews, the day was extra special and comes at the perfect time. Andrews was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2018 and calls the Hope Lodge a lifeline. “The doctors have come up with a diagnosis, but the Lord has come up with a prognosis,” he explained. “This is a great day for me because I finished my treatment today so for them to come on this day it’s great.”

Overall, he described the event as really special. “Just for them to take their time out and allow the patients to be able to see that they care means a lot. People are going through a lot here. A lot of times they aren’t smiling but they are smiling inside. Just for someone to show their appreciation means a lot.”

The event and hearing stories like Andrews hits home for Langen. After leaving Tampa, he and his team will continue to bring the Stanley Cup to Hope Lodge’s around the country and in Canada. “I’m a cancer survivor myself, he noted. “Back in Toronto in 1992, I had the World Series trophy come and visit my hospital. I was going through treatments. So this is kind of paying it forward to be able to bring the Stanley Cup to Tampa, which won it back-to-back years. It’s pretty special and I know you get a little uplift in your day. It’s well worth it.”


About Hockey Fights Cancer:

Hockey Fights Cancer™ is a joint initiative between the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association that unites the hockey community in support of cancer patients and their families. Since its inception in 1998, Hockey Fights Cancer efforts have resulted in donations of more than $30 million, to support cancer patients and their families every day with accommodations, meals, transportation, activities, and emotional support. To date, donations have provided more than 506,000 nights in lodges, transportation equaling more than 370,000 rides, and funding to support a 24/7 helpline for patients and caregivers.

 

About the American Cancer Society:

The American Cancer Society is on a mission to free the world from cancer. We invest in life-saving research, provide 24/7 information and support, and work to ensure that individuals in every community have access to cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. For more information, visit cancer.org.

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Todd Grasley is a contributing sports reporter for Florida National News. | sports@floridanationalnews.com

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