‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ holds special meaning for Thunderbird right winger
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The Springfield Thunderbirds are bringing back their Hockey Fights Cancer night at the MassMutual Center, but this year, it’s a little more special.
On Saturday, the Thunderbirds will lace up for a cause and this year’s theme is ‘Bitsy’s Army.’ As the team was getting ready for this weekend’s match-up against the Charlotte Checkers, Western Mass News caught up with one Thunderbird who skates for the cause every time he hits the ice
“Every morning, I wake up. Maybe there’s some mornings where I don’t feel like going to work or I don’t want my work boots on, work as hard, right, so it gives me a little boost just to think about that, like I get to play a sport as my job, but I’m pretty fortunate and lucky to do that and a lot of people would love to be in my shoes right now,” said Thunderbird right winger Will Bitten.
This event hits home for Bitten, or as the team calls him ‘Bitsy,’ lost his cousin Martin Piché in 2021 after battling brain cancer for seven years. Piche was only 32 years old when he died. As ‘Bitsy’ explains, the pair grew up in Canada about 90 minutes apart and Bitten told us he lived with his cousin for two summers when he was drafted to a team in Piche’s hometown, the Montreal Canadiens, bringing them closer than ever.
“One of my closest cousins and seeing that, seeing him go through that meant a lot to us. We just wanted to keep his legacy alive,” Bitten explained.
Now, Bitten’s goals extend outside of the rink. After the passing of his beloved cousin, he and his brother decided to start their own fundraising campaign known as ‘Bitsy’s Army” which is dedicated to funding the fight against brain cancer and now that Bitten is a T-Bird, the team decided to help bring the cause to the U.S. by showcasing it at Saturday’s game and creating a page for American donors.
After their beloved cousin was diagnosed, bitten and his brother decided to start their own fundraising campaign known as “bitsy’s army” which is dedicated to funding the fight against brain cancer. And now that bitsy is a t-bird the team decided to help bring the cause to the u.S. By showcasing it at saturdays game and creating a page for american donors.
“What the Thunderbirds and the St. Louis Blues are doing to help me promote this and, you know, everyone in on it together means a lot to me and my family and it’s going to be a really special night,” Bitten noted.
We’re told this is the first year since the Thunderbirds began hosting the event that the team has had a player with such a meaningful connection to the cause.
“I know I’m not the only one going through. There’s gonna be a lot of fans and families that I can relate to,” Bitten added.
The puck drops Saturday at 7:05 p.m. A special line of ‘Bitsy’s Army’ merchandise will be available at the game and we’re told proceeds from those sales will benefit ‘Bitsy’s Army’ and the t-birds will also wear special lavender jerseys during warmups to represent the cause.
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