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Being thankful: The Crunch fights cancer

Syracuse put out its best effort of the season into jerseys and other presentation aspects for their Hockey Fights Cancer game.

Syracuse Crunch Mitch Hults (86) wearing the special Hockey Fights Cancer jersey against the Laval Rocket in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Syracuse won 6-4.
Scott Thomas Photography

It’s Thanksgiving in the United States today, a day where being thankful takes center stage.

Well, okay, maybe being thankful shares center stage with a gobbler or two, but you know what I mean.

When I told Alan that I’d put together a gallery for today from the Syracuse Crunch’s Hockey Fights Cancer game last weekend, I figured it’d just be a sweet, easy post for a holiday. It would be nice to look at with that last glass of wine or to scroll through between bites of pumpkin pie. Scott Thomas’ photography is always a treat, so having a gallery of his work today would just be an extra dollop of mashed potatoes (...or something. I think that’s enough with the food comparisons).

But then I got to thinking about families who have been touched by cancer, both families who have cancer survivors still with them and families who feel the loss of a loved one to cancer even more acutely on days like today. Suddenly, things became a bit more poignant for me.

The Crunch did a few unique things Saturday night for their game. The most visible was, of course, custom jerseys in the lavender color that has become the shade of Hockey Fights Cancer. The jerseys were beautiful.

This was the first time in their history the team has done jerseys for this game, and the front office knocked the design of them out of the park, no question.

Proceeds from the auction of the jerseys are going to the Upstate Cancer Center, the major sponsor and beneficiary of the night.

Upstate was actually behind one of the more touching but less visible aspects of the evening. As a regular sponsor of the team, Upstate already has a few dashboard ads around the rink. For Saturday’s game, the organization donated the space of their ads to honor friends and family of fans, coaches, players, and the front office who have fought cancer.

I personally submitted three names of family members who fought different battles against cancer, all of whom are thankfully with me today: my dad, who fought melanoma; my aunt, who is currently in remission after a fierce battle with colon cancer last year; and my grandmother, who beat back breast cancer when she was in her 80’s. Saturday night, I was surprised but touched to find that the section of the boards with their names on it was right where I sit, on the door that leads to the away dressing room.

Alex Ackerman

Today is most certainly a day for many, including myself, to be thankful for those gathered around the table, but it is also a day to be thankful for those who work to fight against cancer every single day. Doctors, nurses, other medical professionals, and scientists, certainly, but also all who help fight, those who give time, money, effort. There are many different ways to fight cancer, and all of them are important.

Not everyone wins their personal fight against cancer, but with more events happening like the games and fundraisers associated with Hockey Fights Cancer, hope is still very much alive. Hope for healing. Hope for better treatments. Hope for remission.

Hope for a cure.