The Columbus Cottonmouths are teaming up with the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life to find a cure for the deadly disease.
For Snakes forward Dan Bremner, the cause is intensely personal.
Bremner lost his mother to cancer on Nov. 7, 2011. Judy Bremner, a high school teacher, wife and mother of three sons, fought the disease for two years. She was only 51 when she died.
"She had colon cancer a couple of years before and beat it," Bremner said. "She was cleared on her 50th birthday. Then it came back and we found out it had spread all through her abdomen. It was a roller coaster ride for two or three years."
Bremner's commitment to this fund-raising effort is simple.
"When it came back, the cancer was already stage three. She underwent aggressive chemotherapy. There was a new treatment available in Calgary, so she went there to get the treatment," Bremner said.
Increased funding for treatment and research could help future patients like Judy Bremner without their having to travel more than 3,000 miles as she did.
"This disease affects everybody, so it's up to everybody to help," Bremner said. "The treatment that she needed was available in Calgary. If she'd gotten there a few months earlier, it might have been effective. Hopefully, if they do more research, that treatment would be offered everywhere."
Judy Bremner's involvement in hockey came through Bremner, 27, and his brothers Mat, 30, and Mike, 25.
"She liked hockey, but she was really passionate about what we were doing," Bremner said. "She did her best to love hockey through us. She came to every game and every practice. Even when I played juniors six hours away, she made a couple trips a year."
Mike Bremner and his wife Heather married only two months before Judy Bremner passed away. They moved the wedding up several months when she became ill. Last year, Heather gave birth to John, the Bremners' first grandchild. "She would have been an incredible grandma," Bremner said.
Bremner's father, Stew Bremner, retired from the police force.
"He's still grieving for her," Bremner said. "It's hard for him to speak of her. They (Heather, Mike, John and Stew) just came down here for a week. It's a process. It's going slowly."
Bremner was playing in Knoxville when his mother became ill.
"We'd played on a Saturday night," Bremner recalled. "My dad called and said I'd better get home. I got a flight the next day and got to see her before she passed away early Monday."
Bremner's adjustment to the death of his mother was different from his father's and brothers'.
"I was there for a week," Bremner said. "Then I went back to Knoxville. I was a little farther from it, while it was more in their faces. I went home the following summer. After two years it gets a little easier, but there are definitely changes in the family dynamic. Her death affected all generations of our family. She was a caring and compassionate person."
The local chapter of the American Cancer Society is selling tickets to the March 15 Columbus-Knoxville Southern Professional Hockey League contest, with proceeds going to its Relay for Life fund-raising efforts.
There are currently 95 teams participating in Relay for Life Muscogee County 2014, which will be held April 25-26 at the Columbus State University's intramural field. Organizers hope to increase that number to 140 teams, with 1,200 participants and 600 survivors on hand. This year's Relay for Life goal is $458,100.
The Cottonmouths have provided a discounted ticket rate of $12 for the event, with Relay for Life keeping $5 per ticket. There are three ways to purchase tickets and aid this fun-draising effort.
Ticketmaster can be accessed through the Cottonmouths website (www.cottonmouths.com). Enter the code RELAY. Call the local American Cancer Society office at 706-324-4573 to locate a relay team. Finally, tickets can be purchased from local Relay for Life team members.