Hockey community rallies around Gloucester playerPosted Jan 10, 2013 By Brier Dodge
EMC sports - Chris Kushneriuk has put his hockey career on pause, but his friends and teammates have switched to fast-forward to raise funds for the Gloucester-raised player.
Kushneriuk, who just had his 26th birthday on Christmas Eve, was playing with the Wheeling Nailers of the East Coast Hockey League when he found out late last season he had cancer.
In order to receive the best care from doctors most familiar with the complicated treatment he's receiving, Kushneriuk is undergoing treatment in Indianapolis.
He's getting treatment for his testicular cancer from some of the best doctors in the world, including those who worked with Lance Armstrong, said Kushneriuk's girlfriend, Christiane Lalonde.
"They're recognized worldwide," Lalonde said. "He's in very good hands."
But without medical insurance, top care comes at a steep price. He's looking at about $250,000 to cover the cost of treatment.
"It's very expensive and it all happened so fast," Lalonde said. "But there's no price on life."
She said that he started his treatment in December and it is expected to last until about early February.
Growing up in Gloucester, Kushneriuk attended Colonel By Secondary School and played junior A hockey for both the Orléans Blues and Kanata Stallions.
He went on to graduate from Robert Morris University, where he was the 2010 team captain and 2009-10 student athlete of the year for the school.
It means that the tight-knit hockey community - both at his alma matter and in his hometown - have quickly organized to help raise funds for Kushneriuk, with the motto Krush Cancer attached to fundraisers.
In his hometown, friends, family and teammates have been quick to organize multiple fundraisers.
Lalonde planned one at her work, and another at the Heart and Crown pub. His friends organized another night out in benefit of the cause at the Great Canadian Cabin bar downtown.
But on Dec. 28, supporters were able to raise at least $6,000 with a charity hockey game featuring NHL, university, OHL and junior A players.
The players taking the ice at the Minto arena included Claude Giroux, Erik Gudbranson, Marc Methot, Eric Condra and Grant Clitsome.
Many of the athletes are a part of Apex Sport Management, which organized the event. Dan Bittle, a partner at Apex, said he works with a number of players who grew up playing with Kushneriuk.
"We put the word out to our players and it grew. It was a pretty neat thing to see guys step up," Bittle said. "We were impressed by the calibre of the athletes."
Minto donated ice time and about 600 tickets were sold. There was also a silent auction and 50/50 draw, and a donation from bar sales for the night.
"Given the nature of his illness, it's something that affects everybody," Bittle said. "The hockey community in Ottawa ... really is a band of brothers.
"The hockey world is just so small. Everyone came together to help and it was a great night."
She said Kushneriuk has been surprised how much money teammates both in the States and in Canada have been able to raise towards his treatment.
"He's very happy and grateful for all the support, he appreciates everything," she said. "He's very blessed with everything going on."
While they have raised a significant amount, there is still a long ways to go before the full cost of his treatment will be covered. For more information, or to donate towards Kushneriuk's treatment in Indianapolis, visit www.chriskushneriuk.org.
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