Monday, October 27, 2008


If you’ve read any of my columns you know that I’m not a big fan of New York State government.

I hate it. It’s Big Government at its “finest.” Our elected officials and appointed bureaucrats make taxes so high and regulations so extreme in New York that corporations find it impossible to do business here and people find it impossible to live here.

Now, they’re even making it impossible to make a difference here.

Just ask Todd Sheridan.

If you’re familiar with Brockport hockey you know his story. If not, here is a synopsis with some help from Rochester Democrat & Chronicle:

Early in (2005), he had noticed "a pretty big lump" on the right side of his neck. His doctor dismissed it as a cyst or infected lymph node, but five months later the lump was still there and Sheridan's concern was growing. In April 2005, doctors removed a painful lymph node from his neck and diagnosed cancer. Doctors discovered that the source of his cancer was his tongue and performed a radial neck dissection on May 23, cutting from the chin to the ear to the shoulder, removing 72 lymph nodes from his neck and cutting out a portion of his tongue the size of a half dollar. "Originally, my doctor was pretty negative,'' Sheridan said. "But after surgery he gave me a 70 percent chance of living.''

He also gave Sheridan virtually no chance of playing hockey again. The surgery weakened Sheridan's right shoulder so severely that the thought of the goalie playing competitive hockey again was deemed ridiculous.

Well, Todd proved them wrong and played hockey anyways, excelling on the ice. The past two seasons he has set new school records for goals-against-average.

Knowing his story would resonate with people, and feeling deep sympathy for the very young cancer-stricken children he saw while in hospital, Todd came up with a great concept: Saves For a Cure.

The non-profit Saves For a Cure would collect from businesses and donors $1 for every save made by Brockport goaltenders. All of the proceeds would then be donated to the children’s cancer clinic at Strong memorial Hospital. The funds would be used to make their life - during some physically and emotionally trying times - a little more enjoyable by providing amenities and comfort.

Saves For a Cure was supposed to launch this semester. Right now it’s on hold, courtesy of New York State.

The pathway to making it a legally recognized organization in NYS has been strewn with obstacles…something none of us had anticipated. On March 12th, 2008, the very night that Todd appeared on the TV show “WNY Tonight” in the Buffalo area, he signed the certificate of incorporation. Past experience had us believing that the non-profit would be legitimate within 3 to 6 weeks.

Well, time went on with no response from the State. Finally, word came in mid-May. The Department of Education didn’t like that Todd planned to educate people on cancer, so that language had to be eliminated from the certificate.

I’m still aghast that the state believes that Todd – A CANCER SURVIVOR – has no right to talk about cancer and educate people on the disease. Amazing.

It gets worse. The Department of Health dragged their feet and in mid-July they said Todd didn’t have the right to donate money to hospitals or buy equipment like TV’s, toys, or furnishings for the kids.

Yes, you read it right: the State is against charity!

So, I sent a letter to Governor David Paterson’s office in September telling him the situation and hoping he could do something. As someone who battled physical adversity himself (blindness) he would know the significance of what Todd was trying to do. So, the Governor’s office came down on the Department of Health. From that, the DOH’s Health Council is meeting in November when it is hoped that they will drop the aforementioned ruling and allow Saves For a Cure to do the philanthropic work it was intended to do.

And people wonder why I hate New York.

Now it’s just a waiting game, hoping that they move in a positive fashion and allow Saves For a Cure to exist and make a difference.

Hopefully, in a few weeks I can report back with some good news and all of us (players, alumni, parents, and fans alike) can work together to find some donors before the season is over.