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NHL players pay visit to pediatric oncology unit

By: Sudbury Northern Life Staff

 | Jul 03, 2014 - 2:46 PM |
Pro hockey players, from left, Andrew Desjardins, of the San Jose Sharks, Nick Foligno, of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Derek MacKenzie, of the Florida Panthers, Marcus Foligno, of the Buffalo Sabres and Zack Stortini, of Norfolk Admirals, visited children in the Pediatric Oncology Unit of the Northeast Cancer Centre at Health Sciences North on July 3. Supplied photo.

Pro hockey players, from left, Andrew Desjardins, of the San Jose Sharks, Nick Foligno, of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Derek MacKenzie, of the Florida Panthers, Marcus Foligno, of the Buffalo Sabres and Zack Stortini, of Norfolk Admirals, visited children in the Pediatric Oncology Unit of the Northeast Cancer Centre at Health Sciences North on July 3. Supplied photo.

A group of NHL players from Sudbury were in town July 3 to lend their support to the fight against pediatric cancer.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno represented his team's Hats for Heroes Campaign.

Foligno's past teammate Derek MacKenzie, of the Florida Panthers, his younger brother Marcus Foligno, of the Buffalo Sabres, Andrew Desjardins, of the San Jose Sharks, and Zack Stortini, of the AHL's Norfolk Generals, joined him for a visit to Health Sciences North's pediatric oncology unit.

All five players grew up in Sudbury.

The Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation Hats for Heroes was founded in 2000 to support the fight against pediatric cancer. The program sets out to raise money through the sale of Hats for Heroes merchandise and fundraising events to fund breakthrough research, as well as create memorable experiences with children who are battling cancer.

“It’s something we look forward to every year and we really enjoy doing. I know the kids get a lot out of it, but as players and as people here in this community, we really learn a lot from these kids,” said MacKenzie, in a release.

The Foliogno brothers were directly affected by cancer five years ago. They lost their mother in 2009 and since then, the Janis Foligno Foundation was established to raise money for cancer research.

The professional hockey players have visited Health Sciences North's pediatric oncology unit for four years straight.

“My son looks forward to this visit from year to year, so it’s something really positive about coming to the cancer treatment centre, and it brings something exciting for him here, and he’s really become a fan of all these players,” said Lianne Vaillancourt, whose son, Mathieu, receives treatment at the Northeast Cancer Centre's pediatric oncology unit.

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