Making an Impact

Team supports Hockey Fights Cancer initiative at hospital, during games

Saturday, 10.23.2010 / 4:17 PM CT / St Louis Blues - Features
By Chris Pinkert  - St. Louis Blues
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Making an Impact
Steven Thome is battling bone marrow cancer and has been a patient at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital for nearly 11 years.

Despite being in and out of the hospital, Steven had plenty to smile about on Wednesday when Alex Pietrangelo, Tyson Strachan and Blues mascot Louie dropped by to visit. All three brought Blues merchandise and signed autographs for hospitalized kids while taking several minutes to chat with each of them.

“(The players) take the time to come in and visit the kids, it’s fantastic,” said Steven’s father, Greg. “He’ll be talking about this for several days, I’m sure.”

For the Blues, taking a little time out of their day to visit children is a no-brainer.

“It’s a good opportunity for us,” Strachan said. “St. Louis has supported us greatly and the chance for us to get out and give back a little bit, we think it’s a great opportunity.

“It’s an amazing thing,” he added. “At the end of the day, we’re just people too. To come out here, help some kids and put some smiles on their faces, it’s amazing to see just their outlooks. You know they’re having a lot tougher day than you are, and they always have the best attitudes. To see their smiles, it really puts life into perspective. It’s a great thing that we’re allowed to come do this.”

October is Hockey Fights Cancer Month throughout the NHL. All 30 teams will hold special fundraisers and events at home games this month to raise money for various cancer research organizations. Since 1998, more than $11 million has been raised to support national and local cancer research institutions.

In addition, all NHL players are wearing special decals on their helmets this month to support the fight against cancer. Every Blues player wore pink laces in their skates this weekend and some players took it a step further: Alex Steen used pink tape on his stick, while New York Islanders’ goaltender Rick DiPietro has been wearing pink goalie pads.

“I think if everybody in the League can do their part, it’s going to go a long way,” Pietrangelo said. “You see guys wearing pink pads and everybody is trying to do their part. If I can contribute (by visiting a children’s hospital), it makes me feel pretty special.

“Thinking about what these kids (at the hospital) have gone through, if you can put a smile on their face and brighten up their day, it’s the least we can do.”

Steen noted that it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t been affected in some way by cancer. That's especially true when it comes to the Blues.

Mandi Schwartz, the sister of Blues’ 2010 Draft Pick Jaden Schwartz, is currently recovering from a stem cell transplant as she battles acute myeloid leukemia. Now a three-year battle, Mandi is finally on the road to recovery as her immune system rebuilds. She had undergone multiple rounds of chemotheraphy to put the cancer back in remission before her transplant.

At this weekend's games, the Blues held special silent auctions to benefit organizations that help people like Mandi.

On Friday vs. Chicago, money raised was donated to Friends of Kids with Cancer, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Be The Match. The team also presented a $10,000 check to the organizations on behalf of Mandi.

On Saturday vs. Pittsburgh, money raised went to help Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Fans were encouraged to wear pink to the game to show their support.

"This is a really special cause for us to support - it's hard to find someone that has not been touched in some way by cancer," said Renah Jones, the Blues' Director of Community Relations. "We want to help bring awareness to and raise funds for these great organizations that do such much for those who are battling this disease, and we are honored to get such great support from our fans."



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