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Painting their mark: TaxSlayer ice rink turns into tribute for cancer survivors, fighters

Ahead of "Hockey Fights Cancer" night, the QC Storm and UnityPoint Health Trinity invited people to paint the ice with names of cancer survivors and fighters.

MOLINE, Ill. — The ice rink at the TaxSlayer Center is a sea of purple after dozens of people came Jan. 31 to paint the names of loved ones who are currently battling or have battled cancer. 

The Quad City Storm and UnityPoint Health Trinity are teaming up for its third annual "Hockey Fights Cancer" night to be held Saturday, Feb. 5.

"It's just something that has touched so many people's lives. And it's just a way that we are able to kind of keep those people top of mind and really pay tribute," said QC Storm President Brian Rothenberger. "We have a player, Joe Sova, who's actually a cancer survivor, and this game means a lot to him every year."

Two people on the rink Monday afternoon were Bernadette and Nick Miller. They've been coming to the paint on the ice event every year, a tradition that started in honor of Nick's friend Kyle Woolfolk.

Nick and Kyle had been friends since preschool and started coming to hockey games together back in the 1990s. 

"They cheered these ice skaters on wildly," Bernadette said. "Kyle passed away a few years ago, so we have been coming and putting Kyle's name on the ice in particular."

On Monday, they added four other names to the ice, friends who have also passed away from cancer or are currently battling it.

"We like to put their names on in remembrance and to let those that are still with us know that we're backing them and cheering them on and wishing them well," Bernadette said. "It certainly draws people's attention to the plight of a lot of people and maybe makes us more mindful of the support that we can give those that are battling. Gosh, it's one of those experiences in life that maybe makes us realize what's important in life and what isn't."

Nick is a QC Storm season ticket holder and will be sitting in the seats Saturday night, just like he used to do with Kyle. 

"It's amazing, my heart is just full of joy to know that there's so many people that care for each other," said Alison Beardsley, director of Oncology Services at UnityPoint Health Trinity. "It's really a tough thing that patients go through when they have a diagnosis of cancer and to be able to show support of those that have passed from cancer or they're battling cancer, it just really means a lot to them."

On "Hockey Fights Cancer" night, players will be wearing custom jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game to raise money for the UnityPoint Health Trinity Cancer Center. 

Last year, they raised over $25k Rothenberger said. He's hoping they'll raise just as much this year. 

The QC Storm play the Peoria Rivermen Saturday, Feb. 5 at 7:10 p.m. Tickets and more information can be found here

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