NHL vs Docs for NEO Kids hockey game set for Sudbury

Raising money to eventually create a hospital for children in Sudbury is a personal goal for Nick Foligno.
NHL Columbus Blue Jackets player Nick Foligno will take part in the upcoming NHL vs Docs for Neo Kids hockey game in Sudbury. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Raising money to eventually create a hospital for children in Sudbury is a personal goal for Nick Foligno.

The Columbus Bluejackets player, originally from Sudbury, has spent a lot of time accessing care for his daughter, who was born with a mitral valve defect in her heart.

Foligno says even though she had a bit of a "hiccup" earlier this year and needed open heart surgery, she's recovering well.

"She's doing outstanding," he said. "She's back to running around and being a typical five-year old girl on a lake."

A few years ago, Foligno helped start an event to raise money for the NEO Kids Foundation, to purchase medical equipment, conduct research and eventually create a children's hospital in Sudbury.

"Not even just the funds, but awareness about what they're trying to do," he said.

"I jumped at it. I thought it was just an opportunity to help out and give back."

Eventually, the idea of a hockey game where NHL players would battle Sudbury doctors was born. The annual NHL vs DOCS for NEO Kids hockey game will take place on Sunday, Aug. 11 between 2 and 4 p.m, at the Sudbury Arena.

"To be able to do both things where you're doing something for the good of the community, but also having a blast doing it, I think it just makes it that much more fun," he said.

Foligno says his family is based in Sudbury during the summers and adds his daughter does access care while in the city.

The annual event brings out many fans and has raised thousands of dollars for the NEO Kids foundation in previous years. (Benjamin Aubé Radio-Canada)

"We actually have a doctor who comes up from Sick Kids right now who actually actually checks her here in the city when they do their satellite programs," he said.

"That's something that could be facilitated here at NEO Kids, eventually. Why would it take a satellite program like that? We should have something like that?"

He says he admits it would be a good service to have for his own family.

"But then you get talking to people when you go there and hear their stories, they're coming from Kapuskasing. They're coming from far away areas," he said.

"Toronto is a hike. Sudbury is a hike in itself, but Toronto or Ottawa is even further."

The game will feature a number of NHL players in action, including Foligno, his brother Marcus Foligno, John Tavares, Marc Staal and Tyler Bertuzzi.

"What's nice is that I get to show them what the north is all about. I love that," he said.

"When they come up here and see why I come back to Sudbury and the people and the community and where we live. We have so many lakes. They awe at how beautiful it is up here. It's great to show off our city and do it while raising awareness and money for such a great cause."


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