There are people who are put in our lives to inspire us. Who make us realize life really isn’t that bad. The kind of people who take the bad things in life and build upon them turning them into something beautiful and inspiring. Nowadays those people are a rare find  kind of like a shooting star. You search for them. You hope for them. One day you find them and they change your life. Today you can put your search on hold for I am introducing all of you to an inspiration. A young man who has taken a bad thing and molded it into something good.

I would like to introduce you to Roger Morris Ice Hockey Alum and current Bakersfield Condors player Chris Kushneriuk. While training for the current 2012-2013 season Chris began to have stomach pains that gradually worsened. What they thought were kidney stones turned out to be testicular cancer.  Most people would become depressed upon realizing their life is hanging in the balance. On top of  that the thing Chris loves the most, playing hockey, would have to be put on hold for the duration of treatments. Most people would have a hard time coming to terms with this situation. Chris Kushneriuk is not most people. His outlook on having cancer is incredible. In an October interview with Gary Heeman, writer at Uscho.com, Chris Kushneriuk stated :

When something like this happens, you really look at life in a different light and you see things differently. I really appreciate things more like family and friends — the true finer things in life, not the material things. I wake up every day excited for having another chance to fight this.

It doesn’t stop at this statement either. If you take a look at Chris’ twitter (@stonecoldkush )  you will see what kind of person he truly is. Chris leaves treatment updates. He tells people he’s never met to have a blessed day. Chris thanks all of those who send him well wishes. He tries to keep his attitude on the situation positive. This man took something so horrible, so dreadful, so ugly, and turned it into something beautiful. Chris is taking delight in his weakness and making it his strength.

Tomorrow Chris will have a round of stem cell treatments and will begin high dose chemotherapy on Wednesday. Unfortunately these life saving treatments do not come cheap. ECHL players do not make much money. If you have the money please consider donating to help the Kushneriuk’s pay for treatments.  Below are a few options.

  1. The Robert Morris University Men’s hockey team is selling blue bracelets for $5 that say  “RMU HOCKEY KRUSHES CANCER.” You can send a self addressed envelope and Check or money order to :
    RMU Men’s hockey
    6001 University Blvd
    Moon Township, PA 15108
  2. You can make a donation through chriskushneriuk.org
  3. If you live in or around the Ottawa area there will be a fundraiser at the Great Canadian Cabin restaurant on December 15th. There will be many items up for auction including a Robin Lehner goal stick signed by the Ottawa Senator’s farm team the Binghamton Senators. The restaurant is located on York Street in the ByWard Market. Please consider going.

Every dollar helps. If you can’t give money please give your support and strength. Please consider taking a moment to pass this story around. It takes a minute to retweet, post this to facebook, or tell a friend about this incredible young man. Please keep him in your prayers, thoughts, hearts, and mind. Especially this upcoming week.

If you would like to learn more about Chris Kushneriuk I’ve placed a few articles and sites below:

 

 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

 

Every town has a legend. The type of person people talk about for years to come. The type of person who is oozing with so much greatness you can not help but become a better person. For the town of Farmington, Minnesota Louis Scmitz is that legend.

Louis Schmitz helped start Farmington’s first youth hockey league.  He also created the first girls hockey program three decades before it was recognized at a high school level . Not only did Schmitz create the program he also coached the girls for several years. Through out the course of his life Schmitz was inducted into two different hall of fames (Women’s Hockey Association Hall of Fame; Farmington High School Athletic Hall of Fame) and won four awards (Farmington citizen of the year, WCCO Good Neighbor Award, Don Clark Award, and the President’s award from the Minnesota Amateur Hockey Association.) As you can see Louis Schmitz was a man of legendary proportions. Unfortunately like all men who lead extraordinary lives they have a tragic ending. Thanksgiving weekend 2011 Louis Schmitz was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Schmitz was able to make it through Christmas and say goodbye to his loved ones before his battle was lost on December 29th.

 

This year the Columbus Blue Jackets are raising funds for the fight against cancer. Please considering donating here. Every dollar helps put an end to cancer. If you don’t have the money to spare please spread this story around and help keep this man a legend.

 

 

At the beginning of the 2001-2002 season Saku Koivu boarded a plane and headed towards Montreal for the start of training camp. While on the flight Koivu began to have stomach pains. Shrugging the pain off he reported to practice where the symptoms became worse. Koivu talked to the team doctor and on September 5th was hospitalized. A biopsy surgery revealed that Koivu had a tumor and malignant cells in his abdomen. The doctors originally diagnosed him with stomach cancer but changed the diagnoses to non hodgkins lymphoma. Before the start of chemotherapy Koivu asked the media to respect his privacy and leave him alone. On April 9th 2002, Koivu returned to the ice where he was greeted with an 8 minute standing ovation from the crowd. The Canadians won that game and then went on to beat the #1 ranked Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.

 

If it wasn’t for costly cancer treatments Saku Koivu wouldn’t be alive today. Please consider helping the Columbus Blue Jackets  in the fight against testicular cancer and donating here. Every little bit helps make a difference.

 

 

Three games into his first season with the Toronto Maple Leafs Jason Blake was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. Through the next 79 games not only did Jason battle cancer he also battled depression. Telling reporters that he just wasn’t into it anymore.”It was just really difficult to comprehend the magnitude of it. I tried my best to move on and played 82 games, but deep down inside it took its toll on me. Physically, I lost 12 pounds in the first month on the medication. I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t a great person to deal with and I wasn’t always the best teammate over the years.” Even through all of this Jason was able to score 15 goals and 37 assists. At the end of the season Jason was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy. He currently plays for the Anaheim Ducks.

 

This year I am working with the Columbus Blue Jackets to raise money for the fight against testicular cancer. Please take a moment and considering donating to the cause here. Every dollar helps.

 

 

 

Every once in a while I write a blog post about what the Columbus Blue Jackets organization has done for me. Today is different. Today I write about what the Columbus Blue Jackets did for someone else. Ryan Salmons was an avid Columbus Blue Jackets fan. During the 2008-2009 season Salmons was undergoing cancer treatments and had a chance to meet many of the players. On November 12th 2008 he was invited to meet with the on ice officials before the Coyotes game and given a special officials uniform. Salmons was then given a tour of the Columbus Blue Jackets locker room with Jason Chimera and Manny Malhotra as his tour guides. I bet you think the story ends here. It doesn’t. On March 25th, 2009 the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Ryan Salmons to a $3 one-day contract. Marc Methot even  gave up his number for the cause. Ryan even got to appear on ESPN with Jason Chimera to talk about the signing. You can watch the video here.  When the Blue Jackets made it to their first playoff appearance in franchise history Salmons was given tickets in section 103 to cheer on his former teammates. On May 1st, 2009 Ryan Salmons lost his battle with cancer. The support of the Blue Jackets didn’t stop with Ryan’s death. Not only did they come to the funeral they also provided a meal for the family to have afterwards.

The Blue Jackets may not have the best record, the most banners, or even a Stanley Cup. They do have the biggest hearts across the league. Stories like these are why I love the Columbus Blue Jackets. They go above and beyond what is required of an organization.

This year I have teamed up with the Columbus Blue Jackets to raise money to put an end to cancer.For the Blue Jackets Movember isn’t just about raising awareness. Movember is about remembering a former member of the organization. Please donate for the cause here . Most importantly spread this story of compassion around. The Blue Jackets are constantly a joke in the NHL. They are more than a joke. They are compassionate and loving. How many other organizations are this way with their fans?

 

 

 

Long before sparkly vampires and hairy werewolves there lived an extraordinary Cullen. A man who played in the NHL from 1987-1998 for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Hartford Whalers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Tampa Bay Lightening. In 1991 with 94 points in the first 65 games Cullen was revered as one of the best offensive linemen for the Pittsburgh Penguins. After the greatest season of his life Cullen was tossed around from team to team. In 1995 Cullen signed with the Tampa Bay Lightening. Cullen began to flourish and helped lead the Lightening to their first playoff berth in franchise history. During the 96-97 season Cullen was tearing up the ice and leading his team in scoring all while dealing with prolonged flu symptoms. Except, it wasn’t the flu. In March of 1997 a grapefruit sized tumor was found in Cullen’s chest. Further tests revealed he had Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Just like that Cullen’s season was over. He immediately began intensive chemotherapy. By September the tumor was gone but his body was still housing cancer cells. During the new round of treatments Cullen went into cardiac arrest. It was then when they decided Cullen would have a bone marrow transplant. The transplant lowered Cullen’s immune system to the point where he could only have minimal human contact. Luckily the bone marrow transplant worked and in April of 1998 Cullen was deemed cancer free. Cullen played 8 games with the Lightening and then was sent down to the Cleveland Lumberjacks before deciding to retire. At the end of the 98-99 season Cullen was awarded the Masterton Memorial Trophy for his comeback.

Thanks to aggressive cancer treatments Cullen was able to come out on top. Please help more stories like this happen by donating to Movember here. We can help put an end to cancer one dollar at a time. If you can’t donate please spread this story of strong will and hope around. It’s the least we can do.

 

 

 

I met Tony and the love of his life, Tammy, the day after the Blackhawks won the Stanley cup summer of 2010. They were in the group that went out with us for my friend Emily’s birthday.

From the moment I met them I knew they had something special. They were unabashedly in love with each other. They gave me hope. I have never seen a couple that young who were so loving and caring. Movies and books are written about this kind of love. They gave me hope that love could be like this in the beginning and stay like that for the long haul. I had such high hopes for them. I imagined kids named after OSU greats running around their house decked out in OSU paraphernalia singing “Hang on Sloopy” at the top of their lungs.

Sadly, in 2011, the Wednesday after Valentines day Tony lost his battle with Colon cancer. My heart broke. I had only known him since June but a love like that should not end so soon. It seems so unfair. I wish they had more time together. Yet, in that short amount of time their love opened my eyes to a whole new world of how to love someone. Openly, Freely, Unabashedly, Unbiasedly, Beautifully, Non Judgmentally and Hopefully.

Cancer you did not completely win. You took away his body but his memory will ALWAYS be with us.

Please help the Columbus Blue Jackets and I put an end to cancer by donating here. If you can’t donate please spread this story around. Every deserves to know what kind of love truly exists in this world.

 

 

 

 

Mario Lemieux is one of the greatest hockey players of my lifetime. He is an inspiration on and off the ice. Regardless of the ailment Lemieux always came back stronger, faster, and with more intensity. He is a true leader.

In 1993, Mario Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease. He missed two months of play to undergo aggressive radiation treatments. On March 2nd, 1993 Lemieux received his last round of radiation. Afterwards, he flew directly to Philly to play against the Penguins arch-nemesis the Flyers. A rare and heart warming moment occurred before the game began. The Philly crowd gave Lemieux a standing ovation. This is something that never happens for visiting teams. Even Flyers fans recognized the strength it takes to beat cancer.

Mario Lemieux didn’t let cancer slow him down. When most would rest Lemieux got right back out on the ice. He wasn’t going to let his dreams or his career pass him by. If we work together to help end any form of cancer more dreams can continue to come true.

Please take a moment to spread these stories or donate here to help put an end to cancer.

 

 

 

 

Every year hundreds of Alumni gather in the chapel at Walsh Jesuit High School to remember those who have passed. Each person remembering a different alumni who left us far too soon. A brother, father, coach, mentor, sister, mother, friend, teacher, wife, husband. The list goes goes on. We grieve for them. We celebrate their life. We begin to heal. We help each other heal.

So today, on this fourth day of Movember, I remember a boy who should have become an alumni. A boy who should have gone on to play professional baseball. A boy who would have made a great father. A boy who was my friend and who I loved dearly.

I met Kevin Neff when I was a sophomore in high school. His sister Mary and I were sitting together during lunch when he came over to ask her for lunch money. I became instantly quiet. Yes, you read that correctly. I,Elaine Shircliff, was quiet. Kevin fascinated me with his light hearted nature and devilish grin. Over the years we bonded over our love of Bob Marley and sports. He always had this uncanny way of putting a positive spin on everything. For instance, I used to hate the rain with a passion. I would complain about it constantly. “Rain? Why does it have to rain? It messes everything up. It’s cold. Complain, complain, complain.” One day Kevin had enough. He grabbed my hand, dragged me outside, and made me dance in the rain. In that one moment Kevin changed my outlook on things I can not control. In the fall of 2001 Kevin was diagnosed with brain cancer. I was on a constant emotional roller coaster. One week he was doing great. The next week he wasn’t doing well at all. Kevin never complained through all of this. I took his lead. I sucked it up and smiled like there was nothing wrong. After everyone went to sleep I would take a taxi to the Neff’s house. Kevin would sneak me in and we’d stay up all night talking about the most ridiculous things. The kind of things that make you laugh so hard you can’t see straight. Kevin also taught me everything he knew about snowboarding and baseball. I taught him everything I knew about hockey and operas. We talked about our dreams and goals. We even made plans to go to every NHL hockey arena and MLB baseball stadium when he was better. The before school phone calls, the late night laughing sessions, and skipping school (sorry mom and dad)  to eat lunch with him went on for many months. In January of 2003 Kevin and I were on the phone talking about the upcoming “4th Day” retreat I was going on. I was worried because I didn’t want to go an extended period of time without checking in on him. Kevin told me I was being stupid. He told me to go and not call him until Monday night. Kevin said he would be fine. Nothing would happen. At 5:30 that Monday morning Kevin lost his battle with cancer.

Kevin is one of the many reasons why I am constantly fighting against cancer. Please help me kick cancer in the butt by donating to me or my movember team here. Let’s find a cure so we don’t have to continue to watch bright,shining stars fade away.

If you can’t donate my hope is you take one thing with you. No matter how tough life can be there is always something to make you smile. That is what Kevin taught me.

 

This is the point in this post where I apologize to two sets of people. 1) Mr and Mrs Neff: I’m sorry for anything I may have broken or spilled in your house. You can blame it on Kevin since he let me in while you were sleeping. 2) Any of Kevin’s friends : I’m sorry if you were blamed for anything broken or spilled. Mr and Mrs. Neff didn’t know I was in the house after hours. I just let you take the blame. :)

 

 

 

Yesterday kicked off one of the greatest months. The one month a year when women can stop waxing their upper lip. Movember. A whole month dedicated to people trying to grow crazy mustaches all for the sake of ending prostate and testicular cancer.  This year I’ve decided to join the Columbus Blue Jackets staff in their efforts to raise money for the battle against cancer. Everyday in the month of Movember I will post a picture of my mustache, a dedication to those who have battled cancer, and a lesson I learned from them.

 

 

Today’s dedication goes out to two time cancer survivor Richard Shircliff. That’s right my dad kicked cancer’s butt not once but twice. In the early 90s he was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. At that point in time stage 2 was considered a death sentence. During this battle we lived right outside of Chicago. Six hours away from our family we all leaned on each other and God for support. This moment in our lives was pivotal in creating the bond my parents and I have today. If it wasn’t for experimental drugs and radiation my “today” would be a lot different. I cannot guarantee I would be the same person I am today if I grew up with out my daddy. I wouldn’t know anything about musicals. I wouldn’t know how to do my taxes. I probably never would have gone to Walsh Jesuit High School. I also wouldn’t appreciate the things life has given me. As much as my momma tries to beat it in my head that my life is good it doesn’t always take. Sometimes my daddy just knows how to lay it out there.  For instance, when I was younger I complained about not having video games or Air Jordans. My mom tried to explain to me our lack of funds because as we all know cancer treatments do not come cheap. I can be pretty bull-headed and continued to hound my momma day and night. “I want Jordans. I want a Sega. I want cable. I want to be like everyone else. Why don’t we have nice things? Blah Blah Blah.” My dad finally had enough. He was supposed to take me to a sleep over but when we got to her house the car didn’t stop. My dad turned onto Ogden Avenue, drove out of Lyons, and just kept on driving. I had no clue where he was taking me. If you know anything about my daddy you don’t ask questions in serious situations. Why? The answer will usually be “You will sit there and shut your mouth.” Trust me, you will shut your mouth. So instead of questioning where we were headed I stared out into the night sky. I watched the neighborhoods slowly get worse until we ended up in front of a homeless shelter in the south side. I watched as all kinds of people walked through the doors. Women with only the clothes on their backs. Children holding a doll. Men in tattered jeans. No one looked like they had showered. Many looked worn out and thin. I just watched in silence. Finally my dad asked “Do you want to live here?” I didn’t answer him. “That’s where we will end up if we buy you everything you want. We barely have the money to live but we can. We are lucky to have a roof over our head and food in our fridge. You are lucky to have all the ninja turtle and more than one pair of clothes. We are lucky.” After he finished his statement my daddy started the car and drove me home. I remember crying myself to sleep. Not because I couldn’t have what I wanted. I cried for those who couldn’t have what they needed. In that one moment my dad instilled a lesson of appreciation within me. A lesson I would never of learned had he died.

Let’s help save more dad’s lives so they can pass their fatherly knowledge onto the next generation. Please join me in the fight against testicular/prostate cancer and donate to the cause here.

 

 

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