Ice Cats aim to combat cancer

Spirit group raising money for cancer research

By on September 25, 2013

At each Quinnipiac ice hockey game, a spirit squad known as the Ice Cats cheer on Quinnipiac from the student end zone, helping to rally the crowds and support the teams.

The Ice Cats are now trying to rally the Quinnipiac population for a different cause, this one with a little more meaning.

In its first year, the Ice Cats have established Ice Cats Fight Cancer, a cause in which the Ice Cats are raising money for pediatric cancer research. All proceeds go to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and the Toy Closet Program of the Yale-New Haven Pediatric Cancer Unit, benefiting children in their fight against cancer.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the largest foundation funding cancer research for children. Since 2000, St. Baldrick’s has raised more than $125 million, creating 651 grants at 311 institutions in 17 countries.

Quinnipiac’s generosity to this cause started in 2008, when the men’s ice hockey team worked with the school community to raise more than $35,000, shaving the heads of the team and fans. Last season, the team partnered with St. Baldrick’s again and raised more than $24,000.

In 2012-13, the Ice Cats worked with childhood cancer in the local community by raising money for the Toy Closet Program. By selling Santa hats at a Quinnipiac hockey game last year, the Ice Cats raised enough money to buy gifts for the children, later delivering the gifts to the hospital.

Even though the Ice Cats couldn’t personally see the kids due to health reasons, this was definitely a memory and accomplishment that all the members would never forget, including third-year Ice Cat Francesca Rodriguez.

“The nurses at the hospital were very excited at the amount of toys that we delivered to them,” Rodriguez said.

Last spring, Mallory Robalino, a sophomore from Woodbury, N.Y., was appointed team manager, later deciding on a fundraiser for the team to work on. Robalino wanted to keep working with the Toy Closet Program, but she also wanted the Ice Cats to work for another great cause as well.

“Seeing that the boys on the ice hockey team support St. Baldrick’s, we figured we should support them too along with the Toy Closet [Program],” Robalino said.

Robalino also has a much deeper reason to care about the pediatric cancer unit. A couple of months after the idea for the fundraiser was thought up, a personal friend of Robalino’s was diagnosed with cancer and was placed in the pediatric cancer unit.

“After seeing what she went through, it made it so much more real for us and made us want to make this fundraiser bigger and better,” Robalino said.

The girls have been working since May on building up the fundraiser and finding ways to raise money.

The Ice Cats will be selling wristbands on campus and at ice hockey games throughout the season this year. The Ice Cats are also in the process of planning events around campus that will benefit this cause. All proceeds go to the fundraiser.

The championship run by the men’s ice hockey team last winter and spring helped bring the school and the Ice Cats local and national attention, reaping benefits towards such a cause.

“The run last year put us on the map, people know who we are now, and it also has set up a platform for the fundraiser for us,” Robalino said.

In less than a week, Ice Cats Fight Cancer has already made more than $700 around campus.

The cause is helping the community around Quinnipiac and beyond. The Ice Cats Fight Cancer website states: “Although we may not all be Connecticut natives we are lucky enough to call this place our home for most of the year.”

With help from the Quinnipiac community, the Ice Cats can save the lives of children fighting cancer.

“It’s great to see the kids get excited that they see people are out there trying to help them,” Rodriguez said.

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