Niagara University Student, Alumnus Skate with Cancer-free Father in 11 Day Power Play
In January 2016, Justin Crawford received a jolt that would make a Scott Stevens check feel like a mosquito bite: His father, Gary, had been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
It’s the kind of diagnosis that shakes a family to its core. Hodgkin lymphoma is a form of cancer that originates in white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the human body’s immune system.
Gary Crawford immediately underwent major surgery to remove a mass that was located behind his breast bone. Up next was extensive chemotherapy that left him weak and tired.
Still, he made it a point to attend almost every hockey game his sons Tyler, now 24, and Justin, 21, played in at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute and, later, with Niagara University’s club team. In 2016-2017, when Tyler and Justin Crawford coached the 18-under Clarence Mustangs to a remarkable run to the national championship game in Lansing, Mich., Gary Crawford was in the stands.
“He has undoubtedly been my biggest supporter throughout my entire life and hockey career,” said Justin Crawford, a senior communication studies major at NU.
That’s what made it so much more special this past July 9 as Justin and Tyler lined up next to their cancer-free father on the blue line at HarborCenter in downtown Buffalo. The trio was participating in the 11 Day Power Play, which in two years has raised nearly $2.5 million toward cancer research and other causes.