BLOG – Hockey family continues to make a difference

While sports clubs across the world embrace the ethos of “corporate social responsibility”, ice hockey is arguably the number one when it comes to understanding how it has the power to make a difference.

As that statement has been made on a website dedicated to the sport it’s clearly biased, but try watching the video above from the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks without thinking it might just be true.

Last Sunday saw two British teams – Whitley Warriors and Billingham Stars – join forces to raise money for a local youngster in need of expensive life-saving treatment.

Frankie Sherwood was diagnosed with stage four high risk neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer, in May 2015.

His family have been desperately trying to raise £550,000 to pay for his treatment in the United States.

With that target still a distant dream, Frankie’s predicament was brought to the attention of Warriors’ forward Andre Payette.

Now it’s safe to say Payette isn’t everyone’s cup of tea on the ice, but watch his interview with Stars TV and see the passion when he talks about trying to help Frankie.

Still dislike the guy? Fair enough, he’s big enough to take it, but you’ve got to respect his commitment to the cause.

In our brief dealings with Payette ahead of the event, he was the consummate professional and certainly happy to do whatever he could for Frankie.

Ably assisted by Warriors fan Rob Potter, Payette helped raise awareness in the North East and beyond, and with over £3,000 donated the event was undoubtedly a success.

Although that only made a small dent in the total amount needed, the additional exposure keeps Frankie’s case in the public eye and may lead to someone coming forward who can accelerate the process.

Perhaps more importantly, Sunday and events like it give the people battling their respective problems something money can’t buy and that’s hope.

From the 19for19 campaign, to Breast Cancer Hockey, Mia Thorne, Streatham’s charity game and many others, we’ve tried to spread the word about the ongoing charity being work done within our sport.

The more cynical members of society might argue that charity efforts are a waste of time, and while the merits of philanthropy in general is certainly a topic worth debating, we’re happy to try and help clubs make a difference whenever we can.

Billingham have a history of involvement in charitable acts, joining many other clubs around the country who’ve adopted the traditional North American Christmas Teddy Toss to bring festive cheer to children who are unable to return home for the holidays.

Perhaps one of the best recent examples of the impact charity efforts can have is the 2014 ice bucket challenge.

Many people questioned why it was done, but the monies raised recently led to a research breakthrough in understanding amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – giving that all-important hope to sufferers.

In the coming weeks two Elite League clubs – Cardiff Devils and Coventry Blaze – will ask people to dig deep for causes close to their hearts.

Devils are hosting a charity game in aid of former player Scott Matzka, who was recently diagnosed with ALS, while Blaze have launched the #Support25 campaign to raise funds for former forward Adam Calder in his battle against cancer.

It’s events and campaigns like these, and so many others across ice hockey, that really give meaning to the term “hockey family” – it’s one of the major reasons why our sport is so great.

So the next time you see a campaign on social media like #FillTheRinkForFrankie please share it and help spread the word.

Even if you’re unable to make a donation to whatever the latest cause might be, just raising awareness can help make a difference.

Doing that is what sets ice hockey apart when it comes to charity – fans, players, coaches and the sport in general “gets it” – long may it continue.

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