At Ingalls Rink, where the Yale Bulldogs play their hockey games, a jersey bearing the name “Schwartz” and the No. 17 hangs in the women’s locker room.
It’s been there since 2011 to remember a former teammate, Mandi Schwartz, who passed away in April of that year after a courageous two-and-a-half year battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
Since Mandi’s passing, the Yale University women’s team has coordinated annual bone marrow drives to help find donors. Through their work, nearly 4,000 people have been added to the registry, including 23 matches for people in need. In addition, the team has held an annual White Out for Mandi game that aims to raise money and awareness of the need for donors.
Friday marked the fourth annual White Out for Mandi, and with the day off and the team in the New York area for a four-game road trip, the Blues took a bus to Yale to attend the game between the Bulldogs and Brown University. In addition, the team held its practice at Ingalls Rink in the afternoon, which was open to the public.
The event marked the first time Jaden Schwartz, Mandi’s brother, had been to Yale. He visited Mandi’s locker, toured the facility and met with some of the people his sister inspired.
"Mandi never gave up," Jaden said. "She inspired me a lot and I learned a lot from her. Before she got sick, I wasn't really aware of cancer or knew a lot about it, but when something like that happens you learn a lot and want to do things to help whenever you can."
Friday’s game featured a special pregame ceremony that included a national anthem performance by Yale senior Patricia McGauley, who attended the same high school as Mandi. Money was raised to support the cause through the sale of special “Yale Hockey” sweatshirts and silent auction items. In addition, Upper Deck sold special Mandi Schwartz hockey cards featuring the “Heroic Inspirations” label.
Weeks ago, Jaden asked permission to attend the event with his parents, Rick and Carol Schwartz. Blues GM Doug Armstrong obliged, but felt it would be even better if the entire team attended to show their support for the cause and the Schwartz family.
"I think this commitment to attend the White Out for Mandi speaks volumes about the depth of the Blues organization," Carol told YaleBullDogs.com. "This is a true reflection of the heart and soul of the Blues family - a family that drafted Jaden knowing full well that during the draft Jaden's heart, mind and soul were in the midst of the greatest tragedy he would probably ever face. A family that stood by him, that supported him throughout, that provided him with opportunities when the time was right and now a family that will stand by him as he for the first time walks into Ingalls Rink and skates in the arena that his sister Mandi so loved and cherished."
The event set a new attendance record for a women's hockey game at Yale (1,125), breaking a previous record set by the first White Out for Mandi game (1,066). Estimates indicate more than $30,000 was raised for the cause.
"It means more to our family than anyone will ever realize,” Jaden said.
Below are some comments from Blues players and Yale staff about the event and what Mandi Schwartz means to their community.
Ken Hitchcock, Blues Head Coach: "I think the players were honored to be part of this. I think they feel like this is a great opportunity for them to support this cause and Jaden in particular...for us, just being a small part of this is going to go a long ways."
Maxim Lapierre, Blues forward: "It's a good day. Jaden is giving us a lot in the dressing room and on the ice, so we're proud to be here with him and his family today."
Ian Cole, Blues defenseman: "(Jaden) is a teammate. This is what teammates do. We're a family, and we support our family. That's all there is to it."
Harry Rosenholtz, who recruited Mandi to Yale: "Mandi was the most amazing person, the most positive, energetic, committed kid we ever had at Yale. The minute she got onto this campus, she changed the face of Yale hockey forever. Her commitment, her love of hockey, she just lived and breathed hockey."
Rick Schwartz, Jaden and Mandi's dad: "Mandi just never quit. She was always the first one in and the last one to leave. Any extra spare time on the ice, it was something she knew was going to make her better."
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