On Dec. 7, when the Warrior hockey team plays the Menomonie Mustangs at 2 p.m., the atmosphere at the Waunakee Ice Pond may be a bit more charged.
The Waunakee players will not only look to record another win on the ice, but also to raise funds for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PCAN).
The fundraising campaign has been ongoing, with a bake sale at Monday’s two high school lunches. According to Tammy Andries, who helps organize the annual fundraiser with coach Eric Olson, the team is poised to raise about $1,000 this year. In the eight years since the Hockey Fights Cancer effort began, the team will have raised $10,000 for pancreatic cancer research and awareness.
Olson said Andries brought the idea to him initially.
“The NHL has been doing Hockey Fights Cancer for 10-plus years,” Olson said. “We thought that would be a symbiotic relationship with what we tried to do.”
Olson said when he came on as coach in 2009, the team lacked focus and discipline.
“We developed a Warrior Way,” he said, which emphasizes respecting one’s teachers and leaders.
“It’s about being a good citizen, and being a good citizen really develops into being a good player,” Olson added.
The goal was always for the players to be well rounded, not only on the ice but as leaders in the community.
“There are two types of people in the world: givers and takers, and we want [them] to be givers,” Olson said.
Andries is a pancreatic cancer survivor, and her son, Jacob, played on the team.
“That whole thing really hit home personally,” Olson said. “My father died of cancer. I felt this was an unbelievable way to the get the message home for our student athletes.”
Andries was diagnosed in 2005, and she is among a small percentage of people who have survived pancreatic cancer.
That’s because unlike breast cancer, which can be detected through mammograms, no detection tests exist for pancreatic cancer.
Not until the person shows signs of the cancer – such as jaundice, abdominal or back pain, weight loss and others – is it found. Often, those symptoms are confused with other health issues, so when pancreatic cancer is diagnosed, it can be in the late stages.
Two types of pancreatic cancer exist – one more aggressive than the other. Andries had a neuroendrocrine tumor which was surgically removed.
“I’m fortunate,” she said, adding that the survival rate is 9 percent.
One of the Waunakee team’s Hockey Fights Cancer sponsors is Carl F. Statz & Sons. Ron Statz also died of pancreatic cancer, Olson said, so they got behind the effort, as well.
The spotlight at the Dec. 7 game will be on the Hockey Fights Cancer effort. All pancreatic cancer survivors will be admitted to the game free, and the first 100 fans will receive a purple beanie.
After the first period, a Miracle Minute will collect funds for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and those funds will be matched by Carl F. Statz & Sons. A raffle and bake sale will also raise funds, and fans are invited to wear purple and bring a picture to put on a Hockey Fights Cancer flyer.
Funds raised by PCAN have helped to fund national clinical trials, Andries said.
“There’s some really exciting things happening at different research facilities and hospitals,” she added.
Today, Andries is part of a survivors and caregivers database and is available to talk to others who have been diagnosed. Surgery to remove tumors can last six to eight hours.
Andries said she’s available to provide hope, inspire and share her experience.