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A canvas for hope: Vibrant Arena ice rink turns into tribute for cancer survivors, fighters

The Quad City Storm and UnityPoint Health Trinity are teaming up for the fourth annual Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Saturday, Feb. 4.

MOLINE, Ill. — The Quad City Storm is once again teaming up with UnityPoint Health Trinity to host its fourth annual Hockey Fights Cancer Night.

The game will be played on Saturday, Feb. 4 when the Storm hosts the Vermilion County Bobcats. The Storm will wear specialty Hockey Fights Cancer jerseys, which will be auctioned off after the game concludes.

Ahead of the game, people were invited on Monday to come and paint the ice rink with names of loved ones who have battled or are currently battling cancer.

Hundreds of names are now written on the ice, making it a sea of purple, for a bright, touching tribute.

One person on the ice Monday afternoon was Terry Langston and his wife, Connie.

The Rock Island residents came to write the names of several family members, including Terry's mom and Connie's dad and cousin. But the first name Terry painted was Connie's. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 and again in 2017.

"It's in remission now," Terry said. "It's quite rough. I mean, watching somebody going through chemo was not easy. There's nothing you can do to help them and they get sick... Just kind of having to watch and pray that everything comes out alright."

Terry also added his own name to the ice after being diagnosed with prostate cancer last year. It wasn't an aggressive form of cancer and had surgery to remove it on Feb. 11, 2022, and said he's doing fine now.

He described the paint the ice event as touching.

"That people care enough to come out, paint the ice, for family, friends and that we're all one really in the fight against cancer," he said.

To him, it can also send a message of hope.

"Knowing that some of these people probably have survived, like my wife is surviving," Terry said. "There's hope that no one, not everyone dies from cancer or that people do survive and live normal lives in remission or cancer free after a diagnosis and treatment."

Shelly Kraklow also hopes for a future without cancer.

"Hoping not to have to add another name, but knowing that we're always thinking and praying that, ultimately, people win that battle," Kraklow said. 

It's the third time she's come to the Hockey Fights Cancer ice painting. Alongside her daughter and husband, she added the names of both friends and family.

"My brother battled lung cancer, beat that, and actually metastasized into brain cancer and lost his fight," she said. "Tomorrow will be three years."

While Kraklow said it's bittersweet to honor loved ones in this way, she hopes it sends a message of support to those currently battling cancer.

"Don't give up, keep giving it everything you've got. There's been amazing strides with medicine," Kraklow said. "There have been miracles and we just always hope for that."

The names will also be on the ice for the Storm's Friday night game, Radar’s Birthday on Feb. 3.

Fans can get tickets for Hockey Fights Cancer Night and Radar’s Birthday at QuadCityStorm.com, Ticketmaster.com and the Vibrant Arena Box Office.

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