Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Touching Story

Zach Bennett
Today I read a story over at titled, "Battling disease, young fan and family sell house to follow team". The story is that of 11-year old Zack Bennett from Albany, NY and his passion for the AHL's Albany River Rats (now the Charlotte Checkers) and and his fight with Neurofibromatosis. This disease causes Zach to have soft-tissue tumors grow throughout his body, resulting in 21 surgeries for Zach which included the amputation of both his legs. Zach's passion for his team was so strong that his family decided to move to Charlotte, NC when the Albany River Rats announced the team was moving to Charlotte to become the Charlotte Checkers. The Bennett's family decision was not entirely hockey based (Charlotte is home to Neurofibromatosis specialists) but this child's and families passion are clearly evident. When the team was still in Albany, players became close to Zach visiting him often in the hospital and giving him the nickname "Bug". During a recent game, the Checkers helped the Bennett family raise money through a portion of the ticket sales, a raffle, and a jersey auction. In all, the team raised $20,000 for the Bennetts. Additionally, the team flew the Zach and the rest of the Bennett family out to Charlotte for a five-day, all-expenses paid trip to see the team play. This experience was chronicled on a series of videos which you can see below:

Former St. Cloud State Husky players Casey Borer and Tim Conboy have been some of the River Rats/ Checkers that have played a part in this touching relationship between fan and team. From a November 2010 article title, Long-distance friendships, Casey Borer had this to say:
"It's really a unique situation where we get to help improve someone's life."
"When we came back, they were the first ones to greet us. It's more than hockey and it doesn't stop because we're four states away."
 According to the article, Tim Conboy texts mother Danielle Bennett for updates on "Bug" and that...
"'Bug' treasures an NHL stick Conboy used during his 12-game stint with the Hurricanes last season. Conboy presented the stick to "Bug" during one of their talks."
What a great and heart-moving story. Thank you to the Albany River Rats/ Charlotte Checkers for all the work they have done and continue to do to help Zach. A special thanks also to Casey Borer and Tim Conboy for their contributions to the Bennett family and for representing the Huskies well. 

Casey Borer (far left)

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