Each November, the NHL and AHL hold a Hockey Fights Cancer event. Every team in both leagues wears a special sweater.
Many teams, like the San Diego Gulls, have the players immediately take the uniforms off and sign them so they can be auctioned off with all the money going to local charities that help cancer patients. In the stands, people hold up cards with the names of people they know who've been impacted by this terrible disease.
It's a powerful moment and a reminder that we're all in this fight together. Alas, in 2020 there are no hockey games to wear that special jersey in ... but the Gulls are not stopping their quest to support San Diegans in the fight for their lives.
On Monday, the Gulls took Hockey Fights Cancer day virtual, asking fans to raise awareness by printing out the same cards, writing the names of people they want to support, taking a photo or a video to post on social media, and tagging the Gulls (@SDGullsAHL on Twitter and @SDGullsAHL on Instagram) with the hashtag #GullsFightCancer.
The team will share them on their social media accounts, creating a timeline of support.
"We look at our hockey team as a philanthropic extension within the community. It's our job to make sure we're not just providing entertainment on the ice but also to make our communities more fulfilled, more emotionally rich and giving back," says Gulls President Matt Savant.
During the COVID-19 pandemic it's difficult to think about even more problems. The Gulls are trying to make sure anyone in San Diego dealing with cancer feels they have people in their corner.
"People are struggling in all different sorts of ways so if we can use what we have as a hockey team to give back, that's really important," says Savant. "When we do get back on the ice we know the fans are going to be there so we'll have a win-win. We'll have a good time on the ice and a great time off the ice."
For more information on the initiative and how to donate to the Gulls Foundation to help those in need, click here.