Ottawa

Tragically Hip fan auctions off prized Leafs jersey for cancer research

Inspired by Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, an eastern Ontario cancer patient is putting a cherished piece of hockey memorabilia up for auction to raise money for cancer research.

'This is just my way of giving back and saying thank you'

Cynthia Broniek met Gord Downie and other members of The Tragically Hip after a concert in San Diego in 1999. (Supplied)

An eastern Ontario cancer patient is auctioning off a cherished piece of hockey memorabilia signed by members of The Tragically Hip to raise money for cancer research.

Cynthia Broniek has put her prized Toronto Maple Leafs jersey signed by three members of the band — frontman Gord Downie, guitarist Paul Langlois and bassist Gord Sinclair — up for auction on eBay.

The 43-year-old was inspired by Downie's recent diagnosis of terminal brain cancer — news she said she was "very emotional about" because it hit so close to home.

Cynthia Broniek has put her Toronto Maple Leafs jersey signed by three members of The Tragically Hip up for auction on eBay to raise money for cancer research. (Supplied)
"I wanted to do that because November of last year I was diagnosed myself with breast cancer. And because of research, I have a good prognosis," Broniek said from her home in Killaloe, Ont., about 160 kilometres west of Ottawa.

Broniek just completed her last round of chemotherapy in April. "My prognosis is much better than it would have been 20 years ago, and I see how important research is, and contributing to research," she said. 

"I want to bring awareness to that, as well as get as much funds as I possibly can for this jersey."

Proceeds to Gord Downie Fund

All proceeds made from the auction will go to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research through the Sunnybrook Foundation.

Downie and The Tragically Hip are currently winding down a national tour in support of their latest album Man Machine Poem, with the final dates in Ottawa on Thursday and a hometown show in Kingston on Saturday that will be broadcast live on CBC.

Cynthia Broniek at her final chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer in April 2016. (Supplied)
Broniek calls herself a "huge" Hip fan, and the story behind the signed jersey is a testament to her decades of devotion to what many consider the quintessential Canadian rock band.

After seeing the Hip in concert for the first time at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto in 1996, other fans told her the best way to meet the band was to see them live in the United States. So in April 1999 she hopped a plane to California, where she got to meet Downie, Langlois and Sinclair after a show in San Diego.

She asked them to sign the Maple Leafs jersey she was wearing, and they gladly obliged. Downie, a noted Boston Bruins fan, signed his name with that team's logo.

"He was taking so long to sign it, and I'm like, I remember thinking what's this guy doing? What's taking so long? And after I took a picture with him and I looked down, I noticed that he drew an emblem," she recalls with a laugh. 

Gord Downie, a Boston Bruins fan, signed Cynthia Broniek's Toronto Maple Leafs jersey with a Bruins logo. (Supplied)

'My way of giving back'

"It was one of my dreams in life to meet the Hip, and it happened, and I'm just grateful. And this is just my way of giving back and saying thank you," she said.

As for her cancer treatment, Broniek will continue to receive the drug Herceptin until February. After that, she's looking forward to her recovery.

While Downie's diagnosis is terminal, and many fans are expecting this week's concerts to be the band's last, Broniek is not counting him out yet.

"I'm hopeful that through research and people giving to the foundation, that something's gonna be found that's gonna help Gord. And I don't think that this is their last show, honestly."

Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie signs Cynthia Broniek's Toronto Maple Leafs jersey after a concert in San Diego in 1999. (Supplied)

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