*Reprinted with permission. This article originally appeared in the Friday, October 24 edition of the Telegraph Herald. Thank you to Jim Leitner, TH Sports Editor.
DUBUQUE, IA--Shane Kavanagh will be playing for more than just his Dubuque Fighting Saints teammates on Saturday night.
The second-year forward relishes the opportunity to raise awareness and funds in the fight against breast cancer during the team's fifth-annual "Pink the Rink" game. Kavanagh's mother, Cindy, received a breast cancer diagnosis three years ago.
"Obviously, it's not something that everybody goes through, but a lot of people do," Kavanagh said. "I honestly didn't know much about it until my mom got it, and it was pretty rough. But I think it made us a lot stronger as a family, and it made me a lot stronger as a person. When you've battled cancer or someone you love has battled cancer, that experience stays with you forever. Fortunately, my mom had her last chemo treatment a month ago, and she's doing well.
"I love opportunities like this to raise awareness for breast cancer. It's such an important cause to support. And it's pretty awesome to see events like this get the kind of support they've been getting. These events mean so much to the families who have had to go through it."
And they mean just as much to the athletes and teams supporting them.
"The players understand the importance of getting the two (standings) points (by winning the game), but they also know it's a great way to educate people and raise money for a great cause," Saints coach Matt Shaw said. "They really get into it, from the pink tape they use on their sticks to the pink skate laces. It's become the cool thing to do, and there's no stigma attached to it."
The Finley Health Foundation and the Wendt Regional Cancer Center will present the "Pink the Rink" game when the Saints host the Madison Capitols at 7:05 p.m. at Mystique Community Ice Center. The Saints will wear special pink-accented jerseys, which will be auctioned off after the game to benefit the Wendt Center and the Visiting Nurse Association.
The jerseys feature a new twist on the team's alternate logo, which appears on the shoulders of the Saints' home and away jerseys. The fleur-de-lis and Julien Dubuque Monument have been replaced on the shield by pink ribbons, the universal symbol for breast cancer awareness.
Pink will be the theme throughout the building on Saturday night. The first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a glow-in-the-dark pink necklace, courtesy of Health Services Credit Union, and the team will offer special pink T-shirts with a breast cancer awareness theme.
"Pink the Rink has become a can't-miss event in our community," Saints president Dan Lehv said. "The fight against breast cancer is a cause that rallies our fans, players, coaches and partners. UnityPoint Health-Finley Hospital, the Wendt Regional Cancer Center and the VNA champion this fight throughout the Tri-State area, and we look forward to another impactful event this Saturday."
Barb Potts, the executive director of the Finley Health Foundation, said money raised from Saturday's event will help provide state-of-the-art radiation oncology services and early detection through a new Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (3D) Mammography Program. It assists in providing the community the ability to receive early diagnosis and treatment in Dubuque.
Clarke University's Association of Nursing Students and Dubuque Internal Medicine will each make a donation toward the cause during Saturday's game.
Caregivers from UnityPoint Health-Finley Hospital and the Wendt Cancer Center will also take the ice during the first intermission to create a giant pink human ribbon to honor patients and caregivers in our community. The night will also feature videos on the arena's LED board featuring Saints players discussing how breast cancer has impacted those in their lives.