HERSHEY, Pa. — "Hockey Fights Cancer" night is always emotional at the Giant Center.
Each year, the night grows, not only in emotion but in presentation. This year the Hershey Bears organization went further than ever before to show that they are fully in the fight with everyone against cancer.
Whether in the locker room, hallways or sitting in the upper level, the lavender-colored details are all around.
It is these gestures of support that make the night special.
When losing a loved one to cancer, a hole forms with a silent void that may leave one feeling empty.
"Hockey Fights Cancer" night is a moment to bring back memories and fill our minds with sights and sounds.
“I think everyone likes to remember their loved ones in a happy way," said Bears forward Mason Morelli. "This is just one example of that, paying credit to them and loving them and missing them and playing for them."
A hockey game cannot turn back time. But what it can do on a night like "Hockey Fights Cancer" night is keep the flame of hope burning for the future.
“You get those special nights once a year and for me, there is always a little something to it," Bears centre Hendrix Lapierre explains. "Because both my grandmothers had cancer. The game means a lot to me. I fight for both my grandmothers on that night, I love them so much it is special for me."
Morelli agrees with that sentiment and knows the emotion gives players a lift.
"You keep an extra thought in your head that day and that night you play for them," the forward said. "And [you] hope that they are smiling down every play and for me, I play for grandpa, my grandpa Gary, and it's really cool how much support is given to this night."
Yes, the night is hard and yet at the same time, it is joyful. Two opposites that combine for a special night of hockey in Hershey with the Bears.
All the effort from the club gets a thumbs-up from the players.
"How much support the Bears put out for the families affected by [cancer] with the lines and board, like you said it is just super cool, and it is a testament to the Bears organization," according to Morelli.
"I saw the boards all around and then I saw our jerseys which are pretty cool; I think it is unreal for us, as I said there are a lot of guys that have been touched."
At the final horn, the cure for cancer will not yet be found. The fight against cancer is more than just a night. It is a 24/7, 365-day battle.
What "Hockey Fights Cancer" does is provide a spark. It is your signs in the stands that serve as battle cries. The lavender sweaters touch our hearts while the lines under the ice provide motivation.
And while the boards serve as a barrier for the puck, as they are adorned in lavender stickers they provide hope for a breakthrough that somehow proves elusive.
So until a cure is found, "Hockey Fights Cancer" will continue.