SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Hockey is a hard-hitting sport, but many of the Sioux Falls Stampede players have been hit harder by a deadly disease.
"My aunt actually had cancer and she was lucky enough to survive through it. It shaped her whole life and she's a changed person from it," Stampede player Zac McCarver said.
McCarver is not alone. Other members of the Sioux Falls Stampede organization have lost loved ones to the disease; some of them have even battled cancer themselves.
"So, it's a very touchy subject, but it's reality. In life we want to deal with the real things," Stampede Assistant Coach Dallas Steward said.
That's why players and coaches are teaming up with The American Cancer Society to promote cancer awareness. They're one of the first teams to take part in the Coaches vs. Cancer program.
"Just being aware of what's going on and supporting the idea of prevention is huge because we're all in this battle against cancer," Steward said.
Athletes and coaches are often role models in their community. That's one way they hope to promote cancer awareness.
"Athletes have a high-standing in their physical fitness and their activity, especially for younger kids. They can be perceived as heroes," Meg Lee with The American Cancer Society said.
Along with raising awareness, the team also encourages players to prevent cancer by having a chemical-free locker room, eating healthy and using sunscreen.
"Putting on sun block in South Dakota of all places; it may not be as hot here as in Florida, but still, there's radiation and things that come from the sun." Steward said.
Because players are not only practicing to win Friday's game, they're taking a shot in the battle against cancer.
"There are so many people on the team who have been touched; it's kind of a battle for each individual to come together as a whole to help fight against it," McCarver said.
The Stampede will promote Coaches vs. Cancer at its game this Friday.
Along with events at the game, if you buy a ticket through the American Cancer Society, $3 will go towards promoting cancer research and awareness.
Coaches vs. Cancer Program
© 2012 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.