GENEVA – Pink might not be a common colour for hockey jerseys. But many clubs are donning the colour in October to draw attention to the fight against breast cancer.
Breast cancer awareness month is an international campaign organized by breast cancer charities every October. Hockey is getting in the game to create awareness and raise funds for research.
Many teams took part all around the world. NHL players visited cancer patients or hosted charitable events for the NHL’s and NHLPA’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative.
Since the start of the initiative in 1998, Hockey Fights Cancer collected $11 million to support national and local cancer research institutions, children’s hospitals, player charities and local cancer organizations. 110 Hockey Fights Cancer products from all teams such as ties, scarves, hats, t-shirts or jackets can be found in the NHL’s online shop.
In Europe, some teams took it a step further. They took part in ‘pink days’ – or in case of hockey games, pink nights – and used the colour that’s seldom seen in men’s hockey.
Geneva-Servette dedicated a home game to raise money for the Breast Cancer Network by playing in pink jerseys and with pink-coloured sticks. The Geneva Pink Night has been an annual event for five years.
Women that have the disease were invited to the Pink Night and fans were urged to wear pink clothes or ribbons. The auction of the game-wore jerseys and a raffle raised money for cancer research.
Pink could also be seen at Eisbären Berlin, one of the biggest-market German teams. The polar bears’ captain Stefan Ustorf played with a pink stick during the month of October in support of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation.
“Here in Germany breast cancer is more or less hushed up. I would be happy if we could raise as much money as possible, but I also would like to help bring this topic into the public eye,” Ustorf said when presenting his pink stick.
60,000 persons are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in Germany alone. While the majority of those affected are women, the German number also includes 500 men. It is the most common cancer in women after skin cancer, and causes more than 500,000 deaths worldwide each year.
Ustorf is no stranger to the disease’s affects. “The doctors diagnosed breast cancer in my wife ten years ago and I think I owe the doctors to give something back,” he said.
For the teams, players and leagues involved, such initiatives are part of giving something back to the communities where they play. What can be better than using the public platform of hockey to help fight one of the world’s deadliest diseases?