Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux recently wrote a touching note as part of a care package to a five-year-old child battling leukemia.
Lemieux sent the letter and a signed puck to the home of Pittsburgh sports radio host Colin Dunlap whose daughter Darran was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in November. This is the same illness Lemieux fought during the 1992-93 season when he was limited to 60 games and came back after treatment to win the scoring title with the Penguins.
Here is what Lemieux said to Darran:
“When I was sick and in the hospital, my family and friends always gave me comfort. Their support was very helpful to me and I encourage you to keep your friends and family close. I’m sending you a signed hockey puck; I hope it makes you smile! … I wish you and your family all the best. I know it gets tough, but continue to fight and stay strong. You can do it!”
According to the Penguins, Lemieux has written several uplifting notes to people struggling with cancer.
“A lot of what Mario does is behind the scenes,” Penguins vice president of communications Tom McMillan told NHL.com. “He’s done these kinds of letters for years. Usually they don’t become public. This one did, which is fine. It’s kind of always been the belief that just a word from him, someone who’s been through it, could mean a lot. So, that’s just the purpose of him doing that. We obviously were aware of Colin’s daughter’s situation.
“He has done these types of letters to people battling cancer many times over the years. He and we have come to realize that a word of encouragement from him can really help to brighten someone’s days. He realized that from the time when he was able to battle his way through cancer and beat it, that having a word from someone who’s gone through it, it’s always good to get support, but when you have a word from someone who’s been through it, it can mean a little more. It’s just an attempt to reach out and offer some words of encouragement to people who are going through some tough times.”
Lemieux, a Penguins legend from his playing days, also created a charity long ago to help in the fight against cancer. The Mario Lemieux Foundation was founded in 1993 and “is dedicated to raising funds for cancer research and patient care, as well as Austin’s Playroom Project, an initiative that creates playrooms for children and families in medical facilities.”
According to the charity’s website, the Mario Lemieux Foundation has “given over $23 million to cancer research and patient care initiatives in the Pittsburgh region and beyond.”
This isn’t the first time Darran Dunlap’s cancer fight has been in the news. Last December, Colin Dunlap posted a viral video of his daughter trying to make it up the stairs after chemo treatments had weakened her body.
my daughter's body is crushed by chemo but she won't let me carry her up steps to bed. "I'll make it,"she says each night-and does. so tough pic.twitter.com/4xe9VecqI0
— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) December 12, 2016
“Just over a month ago Darran was sprinting up those steps to bed-quite literally had to tell her to slow down,” Colin tweeted. “She will sprint again.”
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