HERSHEY, Pa. — A special night Sunday at the Hershey Bears, as this one is more than just a game with Hockey Fight Cancer night. Chocolate takes a back seat to lavender at the Giant Center. The personal stories all over the arena, as so many have been touched by cancer.
To make this night a success, the care and dedication of the entire organization is sewn into every thread of the Hershey Bear's jerseys.
"Game means a lot, what it stands for means a lot and I make sure I put that much more effort into it," says Bears Head Equipment Manager Joshua Carter.
Forget about the chocolate and white, lavender is proudly displayed on the trim, on the chest and shoulder. These sweaters have to be just right, the ice must be perfect because Hockey Fights Cancer is just one of those emotional nights.
"I think of friends and families and I read the names of the folks in the crowd," a soft spoken Zack Fisch explains.
The Bears play by play man has dealt with loss due to cancer.
"You see how touched they are and I think of loved ones that I lost, both my college broadcaster partners that have since passed away far too young, friends and family that are currently dealing with it," he says.
For a few seconds pregame, in that moment of fight we are all one, pulling the rope together for a victory over cancer.
"It doesn't matter who you are, where you are from, we all come together and we all show our unity and our support for the fight against cancer, this deadly disease that takes so many," says Fisch.
The Bears encourage you to join the fight.
Josh Carter fights for his grandfather. "He taught me to be the human I am today so this game holds a little more to me than most."
Forward Riley Sutter fights for his dad. "To have someone in your family, a friend that has been affected by it, you obviously want to play your best game."
"I fight for my nana Angelo Piazza and my uncle," says Zach Fucale.
As you see your favorite Bears players going forward, with those perfectly wrapped sticks, sharpened blades and meticulously hemmed jerseys, know that every name carries a story.
That is why for Carter every name plate has to be perfect.
"When you sew that name on it means a lot. You don't know what they went through but you know that when you sew that name on the jersey, you are putting someone's family name on the back," he says.
Outside the Bears locker room before any person enters, they all must pass a wall loaded up with names on "I fight for" signs. A small gesture but a powerful one that fills anyone who sees it with memories and smiles.
As one passes, it is a time to reflect, to inspire, to motivate and to remember. Most importantly, it is a reminder that the crusade to end the battle against cancer for good continues.