By Alan Gionet
LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4)– There’s no group of players anywhere who look forward to a game like these players. Each year, their group has gotten larger.
People like Dan: “I got hit by a car five years ago and almost got killed,” or Dori: “Breast cancer,” or Tom: “Cancer- three times.” They’re all survivors.
Each has faced a challenge that could have taken their lives. Dave had prostate cancer, Guy had head and neck cancer, Erin had ovarian and then lymph node cancer. There’s competition on the ice but comradery like in no other game.
“It’s really amazing you know,” said one of the Survivors, “You’re just sitting by yourself in the hospital and you’ve got 20 hockey guys coming in and you know all gruff and normal and the nurses thought it was just amazing, doctors did, too.”
That’s how Dawg Nation rolls. It’s a charity that started up to help hockey players in need. So far, it’s paid out more than $750,000. Overhead is minimal as everyone donates time as well as money.
“It’s just guys looking out for guys,” said Dawg Nation president Marty Richardson, known as the human engine who drives Dawg Nation. “Almost like a family and sometimes there’s really not that many of us, so everybody seems to know each other.”
The entire weekend Dawg Nation hosted a hockey tournament and raised over $111,000, but gave away more.
The big story during this game was the help for the family of Butch Mousseau. Many had played hockey with Butch. He was Native American, one of the few in hockey, and loved the game almost as much as he loved people. He became a referee and reached professional level hockey.
Early this year, Butch went over backwards as he skated pre-game in Grand Rapids with his hands in his pockets. His head took a fatal blow when he hit the ice.
“He was a friend from the beginning. He was just the nicest guy I ever met I think,” said one of the Survivor Game players.
Butch’s daughter sang the national anthem at the Survivor Game to a roar of support from the crowd at the Edge Ice Arena. Then Dawg Nation present his wife Macaire Mousseau with a check to help the family of $175,000 dollars.
“You know the day that he was injured, people started giving, it’s just been, I don’t even have words it’s been such a blessing,” said Macaire. “I’m just so thankful for the hockey community and our friends and family and it extends very far across the world and it’s going to help us get through the next several years.”
Don’t think it wasn’t competitive. They all wanted to win. But in there’s no better handshake line than the one in the Survivor Game.
“We all have our different stories, but to come together to play a great game of hockey speaks its volumes, it gets us through the next year,” said survivor Erin Kirby.
The family of Butch Mousseau wasn’t the only ones who got a check from Dawg Nation at their recent tournament.
Here’s the full list of recipients:
Macaire Mousseau: $175,000
Torrin Perrot: $28,000
Sean Gagnon: $11,000
Carrie Jay: $5,000