Full Press Coverage is proud to feature this series in which columnist Matt Robinson will profile and celebrate athletes who go the extra mile for people in need
NAME: Cam Neely
TEAM: The Boston Bruins
FOUNDATION: The Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care (https://camneelyfoundation.org)
NHL Hall of Famer and Bruins President Cam Neely is one of the great legends of Boston sports. Even after he stepped off the ice for the last time, he has continued to loom large in the lives of many through the work of his foundation
As a member of the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League, Neely helped the team become the first US-based organization to win the Memorial Cup Championship. After being drafted ninth overall by the Vancouver Canucks, Neely came to Boston three years later and – fortunately for Boston, never left.
With a hard, accurate shot, quick release, and a willingness to engage in the more physical aspects of the game, Neely fit right in with Bruins culture and became a fast favorite of fans. Through the Cam Neely Foundation (which was created in memory of Cam’s parents), Cam continues to support his community by supporting the life-saving work of the talented team at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. While cancer patients get the best in medical care, their families and loved ones can get personal care at the nearby Neely House.
On November 3, comic legends Denis Leary, Jim Breuer, Lenny Clarke, and Brian Regan (among others) will gather at Cam’s old home- the TD Garden – for the 24th edition of the always popular and longest-running comedy fundraiser in the nation Comics Come Home. Tickets are available at www.comicscomehome.com
When did the foundation start?
Both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer within months of each other and, being a professional athlete, we are always willing and ready to help others. Seeing how cancer became part of my life, I figured that, if I was going to give of my time, I would do something that had more of a personal meaning to it. I also noticed that there was more needed than just research. Research is very important, but we want to help people dealing with it today- both the patients and the families. The first event was in 1995.
What are the goals?
We provide comfort and support for patients and their families. The patients, I have found, deal with the diagnosis much better than the families. Being a family member of two patients, you want to do so much more than you can. So I saw a need to be able to help both the patient undergoing treatments and the family- specifically with the Neely House, which was our first project. It is meant to give the family a way to stay somewhere for no charge or a nominal charge while the patient is undergoing treatment at Tufts Medical Center. One of our employees had been treated there and had a really great experience there. She introduced us to the head of the cancer center and the president of the hospital and it seemed like a good fit for us.
What does it bring to the community?
The level of compassion and support and comfort that the Foundation has been able to provide for thousands of patients and families over the years is something special. We know how difficult the process is to go through and that no situation is the same. It can be so taxing for a family, so we try to help with that.
What are the most meaningful events?
We have the comedy show and an invitational golf tournament in June. I am trying to get away from events like fundraisers and trying to go for more grants and general donations from people that understand what we do and why we do it. But the events are a fun way to raise money, especially the comedy show.
How can people become involved?
I have always said that you can give a dime or your time to help patients and their families. We need volunteers for our events. Also for the Neely House and other spaces at Tufts. We can also use sheets and detergent and things that we would otherwise have to pay for. People can always do more, but even a small offer or donation certainly helps. It all makes a difference.
–Matt Robinson is a Special Contributor to Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He is a freelance writer and editor with 20 years of experience. See his content at www.therobinsonreporter.com