Also posted on NWHL.zone March 5, 2018
Riveters defender Michelle “Shelly” Picard participated in the Fourth Annual #MikeyStrong Charity Hockey Game on Friday at the Prudential Center. Four years ago, Mike Nichols suffered a spinal injury at a high school hockey game in 2014. Since then, he has teamed up with WFAN and Boomer Esiason for the Mike Nichols Charity Hockey Game. Esiason and Will Reeve—son of the late Christopher and Dana Reeve—served as captains for the event. For the second consecutive year, the #MikeyStrong game was hosted by the New Jersey Devils. and the Prudential Center.
“I was fortunate enough to be chosen,” Picard humbly explained before taking the ice for Team Reeve. “They asked me again and I jumped on the opportunity. It’s such a great cause.”
Picard — a captain of Team NWHL and an NWHL All-Star — along with 20 other skaters took the ice to raise funds for the Mike Nichols Foundation and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. All proceeds are dedicated to curing spinal cord injury and improving quality of life for people with paralysis. NHL alumni such as Grant Marshall, Colton Orr, and Rick DiPietro returned to the ice for the event. Picard was the only active professional hockey player among those skating Friday night. Picard and Nichols share a mutual respect.
“He’s a great person doing awesome things for the sport, spinal cord research, and for families trying to move forward,” said Picard. She hopes to get Mike to a Riveters game sometime soon. “Hopefully, that will happen because I’d love to see him there.”
Mike seemed eager to catch Picard in action again. In 2014, he fought hard to watch Picard and the U.S. Olympic Team play Canada at the Sochi Games.
“I had physical therapy at the time,” Nichols said. “I was like, ‘Listen. I’m not leaving my room unless you put [he game on the big projector in the physical therapy room.’” Nichols prevailed, all for the love of the game.
Hockey players showing up for one another is the main theme behind the #MikeyStrong fundraiser.
“The hockey community is one of the most tight-knit, supportive groups of people that I’ve ever come across,” said Will Reeve. “When this community comes together to support a cause, like the Reeve Foundation cause, like the Mikey Nichols cause, it’s a really powerful result.”
When Boston Pride forward Denna Laing suffered her spinal injury, organizations like the Reeve Foundation stepped up to support her and her family. Laing was presented with the Dana Reeve Hope Award at the 2016 A Magical Evening gala.
Nichols recalled meeting Denna at the event in November, “Denna Laing is a great person,” he said. “I know Denna is doing a great job of spreading the message of spinal cord injury.”
Nichols, like Laing, takes on the responsibility to raise awareness for other hockey players dealing with spinal cord injuries. “It’s just another opportunity to spread the message and do what is necessary,” he said.
Reeve agreed, “When we meet people like Mike, like Denna [Laing], like Eric LeGrand, and the millions of other people we help and support all around the world, we know that we have an obligation to them as the leader in our space to deliver on the promise that we are going to get them out of their wheelchair. It doesn’t matter if they played hockey or not, we know we have the support of the hockey community and it’s a real honor for us.”
The hockey community will continue to spread the message and offer support to their injured brothers and sisters Saturday evening at the third annual Denna Day.
This year, the Pride will donate proceeds from the 50-50 to Journey Forward, which betters the lives of those who have suffered Spinal Cord injuries.
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