Bowmanville, ON – Ahead of Sunday’s final preseason game in Bowmanville, both the Peterborough Petes and Oshawa Generals presented donations to retired NHL star and OHL graduate Bryan Bickell.
In honour of the Bowmanville native’s fearless legacy on the ice and his philanthropy off, the Generals and Petes donated $1,500 and $500 respectively to the Amanda and Bryan Bickell Foundation whose most recent program provides fully trained service dogs to individuals living with MS. In response to the donation, Petes General Manager Mike Oke went on to say, “Bryan has made it a point to give back to the communities he’s been a part of since he played junior, it’s now time for people to give back to him. He’s part of the OHL family.”
Bickell entered the NHL as a force, scoring on his first ever pro shift, going on to complete nine seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and earning three Stanley Cups. He maintained his on-ice role for an extensive period of time with the Blackhawks but was subsequently traded early in the 2016 season to the Carolina Hurricanes.
On November 10, 2016, Bickell learned of his multiple sclerosis diagnosis following an MRI. Multiple sclerosis is a disease where the insulating covers of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. Most patients, as Bickell did, experience muscle weakness in their arms and legs and have difficulty with coordination and balance, with severe cases imparting walking or even standing – a professional athlete’s nightmare.
Four months following his diagnosis, after the introduction of Tysabri – a medication taken to control MS symptoms, Bickell returned to the Hurricanes lineup after playing 10 games with Charlotte of the American Hockey League. Committed to focusing on his health, Bickell announced his retirement before playing in his last four professional games, ending his impressive career with a shootout goal off the post and into the the net. “Bickell Brave,” was the slogan adopted across the NHL during its 2016-17 season, commemorating the Carolina left winger’s perseverance following his MS diagnosis.
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