If you ask me what my least favorite season is, I’ll tell you summer. My Crohn’s and skin don’t mix well with a hot sun, and there’s no hockey. The Summer of 2011 was a different story and made me wonder if it might make a move out of the number for seasonal position.
First, the Bruins won The Cup for the first time since I’ve been alive. I started the day at what had become my usually Wednesday hangout: Buffone Arena’s hockey rink. I skated from 10:00 AM until 12:00 PM, and played a public hockey session from noon until past 2:00. I then skated and shot the puck around until about 5:00, when the rink manager Nick asked me if I was ready to go watch the B’s win The Cup. I had been waiting my whole life. That night, I watched with my Michigan-converted-Tim-Thomas-worshipping girlfriend and thanks to her, I went to my parents to celebrate with my family. Easily one of the best days of my life.
In between The Cup victory and parade, the Skating for Hope committee met to continue preparing for the event. My team had just won it all, but there was just over a month to get ready for the big day/night/day.
Saturday, June 18th was the day if the Bruins Cup Parade, and my girlfriend and I headed into Beantown early to make sure we got a front row position. Although I had to sacrifice missing my 3rd trip up to Burlington, VT to play in the 32-team wiffle ball tournament simply called Wifflefest, there was no way I was going to miss the parade. Seeing the first shimmering glimmer of The Cup making its way towards my position was the first time the B's ultimate victory started to sink in. And there Lord Stanley was, being held by Timmy Thomas who had Captain Z by his side. Still, unbelievable enough to doubt if it was really happening. But it did. And I’m pretty sure Adam McQuaid saw me wearing the “Darth Quaider” T-shirt my sister Carolyn designed. Sweet.
Skating for Hope preparations continued and with the suggestion of a friend, I even tried to get The Cup there. On July 30th at 10:00AM, I took to the ice at Buffone Arena in Worcester. With a lot of great people behind me, I was able to make it through the 24-hours, played in 3 hockey games, and we raised a lot of money for Hope Lodge. All of the committee members and volunteers took responsibilities while I lived out my fantasy of being on a rink for an entire day. I played hockey with BC and BU Alum that can play about 4,385 times better than I can, and saw some taking the ice for their first times. We had a great Saint John's /Westboro High Alum game in memory of Danny Manning and Greg Montalbano. Family, old friends, new friends, and people I had never met came and supported the event. Even though my words can’t really capture how amazing it was for me, this collection of pictures and clips should give you an idea.
In the month of August, donations for Skating for Hope continued to arrive in the mail and online, and the total amount of money raised by Skating for Hope continued to increase. After a week of rest, I slowly introduced myself back to exercise and not having SFH on my mind. I took time to start writing thank you notes to people that helped, but knew to make them all personal it would take time. At the end of the month, I had another date with Lord Stanley. After stopping at Hampton Beach, NH to see Kenny Wayne Shepherd, I drove through the night up to PEI and arrived there late on a Saturday morning. It was a beautiful “PEI Day”, and my girlfriend and I caught up on our sleep on the sand The Island’s north shore. Saturday night included quick stops at Cow’s, the Charlottetown cannons, and a few races at the CDP (or whatever it’s called now). And Sunday was another Cup Parade. Although on a smaller scale than the Boston celebration, the Adam McQuaid Stanley Cup Festival was just as enjoyable and well worth the trip. I think the best quote of the weekend was JB’s thought about PEI as she was enjoying the beach: “Why would you ever leave here?”
After a 2-day workweek back at Hope Lodge, we celebrated my sister-in-laws birthday with a game night that included my dad mistakenly acting out Christopher Lloyd when his Cranium card said Christopher Walken (video to follow). Then, I went up north again for a full week on PEI. This time, I went with my mother and younger brother, and even though the good weather alternated each day it was a great week full of fun times. Labour Day was gorgeous, and the rest of the week I chatted with a Stanley Cup champion, drive up The Island’s west coast (from West Point to North Cape), went to the PEI Potato Museum, listened to Celtic music by Cynthia MacLeod, Gordon Belsher, and Richard Wood, and finished the week going to the Buddy musical. It went by too fast, and I’m already missing PEI.
Last week was one of recovery from a very intense, unbelievable, and magical summer. I’m ready to skate, play hockey, watch hockey, plan Skating for Hope II, and finish writing thank you notes to all the people who helped with Skating for Hope – thank you for your patience. And, thanks to everyone who made this summer a very memorable one!