Thursday, February 18, 2010


The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle features a nice article about Todd Sheridan and Saves For a Cure....

Todd Sheridan sat in a room at University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia five years ago, waiting for another round of chemotherapy.

That's when he noticed the person who would change his life.

"There was a guy in his late 30s, early 40s, with a bald head," Sheridan recalls. "He had a little girl with him who was wearing a Mia Hamm jersey. She couldn't have been more than 8."

Sheridan assumed the man was undergoing cancer treatment, and was impressed his daughter had come to support him.

Then, a name was called and the little girl walked into the room reserved for chemo patients. Sheridan saw a bald patch on the back of her head as she disappeared into the room.

That's when he lost it.

"It's the only time during my whole cancer ordeal that I broke down," he said. "I felt so bad for her. It's burned into my memory forever."

Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and underwent surgery that May to remove 72 lymph nodes and a piece of his tongue. A feeding tube was placed in his stomach, and doctors told him his hockey career was over because he'd never be able to move his right arm enough to play.

Sheridan defied the odds, and now is putting the finishing touches on a stellar hockey career at SUNY Brockport. He's third on the school's all-time career saves list with 1,889 and will finish with the program's four best goals-against averages. His current GAA is 3.18. He is already the career leader in goalie wins (28).

Even though Sheridan is cancer free, he hasn't forgotten that girl and all children who bravely battle cancer.

"For me, the hardest part was seeing kids go through it," Sheridan says. "In a lot of cases, they were the inspiring ones and the upbeat ones."

Three years ago, the New Jersey native founded Saves For A Cure, a nonprofit organization aimed at helping children in their battle against cancer. Close to $8,000 has been raised, but the money doesn't go toward research to cure cancer.

"I talk to people at the (James P.) Wilmot Center and decide what they need," says Sheridan, who is the foundation's CEO. "I talk to patients. What's going to make it an environment that keeps kids positive? Maybe a DVD player for rooms, or more comfortable seating.

"I wanted to make an actual difference."

The Golden Eagles will wear black jerseys which are being auctioned off online. The jerseys can be purchased at Last year, the auction netted $2,582, and Sheridan's No. 35 jersey was the top seller ($250). All money — including gate receipts, donation buckets at Tuttle North Ice Arena and raffle proceeds — goes to the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.

Sheridan isn't in this alone. Bob Confer, a Brockport alum and vice president of Confer Plastics, bought Sheridan's Web page and has put "a lot of money and effort into it," Sheridan says. Confer is on the Saves For A Cure board of directors.

Golden Eagles coach Brian Dickinson and assistant coach Mark Digby also have been influential. Digby designed Friday's special uniforms.

Sheridan's philanthropy is why he's one of 18 finalists for the prestigious Humanitarian Award, which goes to college hockey's "finest citizen." It's his second nomination. The winner will be announced April 9 at the Frozen Four in Detroit.

"It would be quite an honor," he says. "I'd feel like 'Saves for a Cure' was the real winner, though.''

Sheridan, 25, would be the third player with Rochester ties to win the award. RIT's Kristine Pierce (Honeoye Falls-Lima), a fellow cancer survivor, won in 1999 and Cornell's Sam Paolini of Greece won in 2003.

Sheridan grew up in Edison, N.J., between Newark and Princeton. He left home at 20 to play for the Sarnia Blast of the Canada Junior B League. Early in 2005, he 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.

That April, doctors removed a painful lymph node from his neck and diagnosed cancer. He was given a 70 percent chance of living, and a near-zero chance of playing hockey.

He endured six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, five days per week. His mother drove him 90 minutes each way to the University of Pennsylvania for treatment.

Three weeks after enduring his final radiation treatment, he rejoined his Junior B team in Ontario. Once considered a Division I prospect, he joined SUNY Brockport for the 2006-07 season and has started ever since.

Sheridan has one more year left at Brockport because he switched majors (from a double major of biology and chemistry to business). His hockey eligibility ends this season, but he plans to keep his foundation going after he's left the rink. Even though he is cancer free, the disease is his enemy.

"I took the cancer thing very personally," he says. "Every time I'm helping a kid beat it, it makes me happy. It's a great feeling beating cancer."