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Arizona hockey team paints cancer victims' names on ice

The rink at Tim's Toyota Center, home of the Arizona Sundogs, is shown covered in the names of cancer victims. (Arizona Sundogs Photo)

PHOENIX -- It could be an emotional Saturday evening for professional hockey fans in Prescott Valley.

The Arizona Sundogs have done something special for their "Pink In The Rink" game against the Rapid City Rush at Tim's Toyota Center.

The Sundogs, who are a minor league affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes, invited fans to pay tribute to cancer victims by painting the names of friends and loved ones affected by the disease on the ice Thursday. The rink was open for seven hours for people to paint.

Sundogs General Manager Chris Presson said the 200-foot-long rink is now covered from one end to the other with over 300 names of cancer victims and survivors.

"Some people just wrote the name of their friend or loved one in the ice with a little heart," said Presson. "Some people, 'We miss you.' Some people wrote the name of their loved one with 'Rest in Peace' and the date of their death. Many people wrote the name of their loved one or friend, and underneath it, they put ‘Survivor.'"

Presson said he painted the names of three cancer victims in his family. Several Sundog players added names on the ice. Presson said that it was a very emotional experience for many people.

The goal is to draw attention to the need for more research in the fight against cancer, including breast cancer.

The Sundogs have home games against Rapid City both Friday and Saturday night. The official "Pink in the Rink" game is Saturday night.

After the painting was completed Thursday, the rink was covered with another layer of ice so that the names will remain intact as the players skate over them during the games.

The event is part of a fundraiser for the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation and the American Cancer Society in hopes of finding a cure. Proceeds will come from the sale of pink game-used hockey sticks autographed by the Sundogs players. The team will also auction off specially designed jerseys after the game, which starts at 7:05 p.m.

For more information and tickets, go to the Arizona Sundogs' website.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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