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Lightning, Rays Create a Buzz in Tampa for Pediatric Cancer Awareness

Athletes across the Tampa, FL area were shaving their heads last week, and not just to combat the Central Florida heat. As part of the Cut for a Cure Charity Challenge, members of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays took a break from practice to solicit the services of barbers to raise funds and awareness for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Not only were children currently battling cancer the focus of the two teams’ events, but they were also part of it; some barbers featured the assistance of young cancer-fighters who were handed clippers and asked to buzz the heads of players, fans, and team executives from both squads.

“You’re a dad, you have kids and you’re a grandparent, so it really smacks you,” said Rays head coach Joe Maddon in an article on the team’s web site. Maddon has been one of the biggest proponents of the event, which his team was participating in for the third straight year. “Then you get to meet the parents, the grandparents, and then you understand — these moments impact a lot of people, man. … All this stuff, we don’t think about. You never really take time to think about it. But under these circumstances, it really comes to the forefront. … Any little thing we can do as an organization to help, we’re proud to do so.”

Just days before the Rays said goodbye to their hair, members of the Lightning were shaving their heads as well. One player in particular, defenseman Mark Barbeiro was not satisfied with helping just one cause. Barbeiro, playing in his rookie season and who claimed not to have received a haircut in the past two years, donated his shorn hair to Locks of Love, an organization that provides hairpieces to children throughout the U.S. and Canada who’ve lost their hair due to a medical diagnosis.

The fifth annual Cut for a Cure Challenge, which is sponsored by Bright House Networks will run until May 1. More information can be found on the event page.

Gabe Katz
A journalism enthusiast – sports media in particular – Gabe has interviewed Super Bowl champions Raheem Brock and Chris Canty, and rising star Bengals linebacker Vincent Rey. He’s covered organizations and events affiliated with the NY Rangers, NY Knicks, and NBA Cares. He has also written articles featuring NY Yankees’ Robinson Cano and CC Sabathia, Tina Charles (WNBA), Deron William’s Point of Hope Foundation (NBA), and the foundations of Torrey Smith and Ryan Kerrigan (NFL). After graduating from Temple University where he received a degree in communications, he had two subsequent positions in news, first as an online editor and contributor for a Philadelphia sports web site start-up and later as a multimedia content provider at a newspaper in the Philadelphia suburbs. He now lives in New York as a freelance journalist and remains an avid sports fan.