From the pages of the Brockport Stylus...
Brockport's own making impact for charity
By: Amanda Seef
With a blue wristband reading "Fear Nothing," Todd Sheridan skates onto the ice, ready to defend the Golden Eagles net. Behind the junior goalie is a cause and a charity worth his time.
As a hockey player in the Canadian junior leagues, Sheridan went in for surgery to remove an infected lymph node from his neck. He came from the surgery as a cancer patient, with a tumor in his neck bearing squamous cell carcinoma, a form of cancer often found on skin or in organs.
Within the next six months, Sheridan had multiple surgeries that removed 72 lymph nodes, with a total of 45 staples and three drains in his neck. There was a 70 percent chance of survival for him, with radiation completing the day after his 21st birthday.
During the period of radiation, Sheridan was sitting in the waiting room of the Pennsylvania hospital where a little girl and her father sat. Originally, he assumed the balding father was the patient; the 8-year-old, his support network. But as the names of patients were called, the small child stood and walked toward the door. With her back to Sheridan, he could see where her treatments caused a small balding spot on the back of her head.
Over the next few months, while they both received treatment, Sheridan bonded with the little girl, who gave him the "Fear Nothing" wristband he wears today. Without knowing it, this 8-year-old girl inspired Saves for a Cure, a not-for-profit charity started by Sheridan.
The charity is nearing its third year of operation, looking for final touches before it is an approved cancer charity with the Board of Health. Each dollar will go toward helping children with their battle against cancer. With three key phrases of "determination," "spirit" and "support," Sheridan hopes his organization can bring happiness to young victims.
"It sucks they have cancer, but they're going to go to an experience that is a little more enjoyable," he said of his aim with the donated funds. Sheridan says surviving cancer is about attitude, as well as determination.
"If you're positive, you have a better chance of being OK," he said.
The charity's funds will not go toward research for cancer, however.
"I believe there is no 'magic pill' that will cure cancer," Sheridan said. "People and doctors cure cancer."
Ideally, he hopes the money raised will go toward updating hospitals and their rooms, making a more comfortable atmosphere during the patients' stay. "A child is never to blame for this disease," Sheridan wrote on the Web site, www.Savesforacure.com. "Seeing an innocent child fight for their lives is one of the most courageous and motivating things in the world. Our goal is to help the children and show them, and their families, that there is life after cancer."
So far, the charity is making its way through Brockport. A "Saves for a Cure" weekend was created, Feb. 14 and 15, to raise money for the charity. Each member of the team wore a specially made jersey, bearing the Saves for a Cure logo. Sheridan gives credit to his teammates, who were amidst their senior weekend with games lined up against SUNY Oswego and Cortland. Despite their last regular-season home game, the seniors wore the jerseys to help raise money. Each jersey was auctioned, with all jerseys netting more than $2,500 (Sheridan's own caught the most at $250, with teammate Tim Crowley matching). Donations were also accepted at the door, and all ticket sales were donated to the charity throughout the weekend.
With the assistance of the coaching staff and the team, Saves for a Cure has slowly made ground. Bob Confer, a Brockport alum and hockey enthusiast, has also been helping Sheridan set up the charity - from legal help, the Web site (SavesForACure.com) and to the approval processes.
"Todd's reasons for starting the non-profit [charity] are genuine and real," Confer said. "When he talks about the young cancer victims he wants to help, you can see the emotion in his eyes and you can hear it in his voice. By bringing some joy and comfort to them as they face the toughest days of their lives, Todd is doing something special, something that means a great deal to those kids and their families. Once a potential donor - whether it's an individual or a business - sees how much Todd cares for the children, it's an easy sell for Saves for a Cure. You feel like your money is doing something worthwhile."
As Sheridan enters his fourth and final year at Brockport, and as a member of the Brockport hockey team, he hopes to leave the charity on campus, but also expand it. The charity could expand as far west as California, but also expanding east to New Jersey, Sheridan's home state.
"Wherever I go, I just want to expand it to there," he said.
Nearing the four-year anniversary of his diagnosis, Sheridan remains optimistic. As one of the youngest people to be diagnosed and survive this form cancer and treatment, Sheridan has 95 percent usage of his arm and full-range motion in his neck. He wasn't supposed to be able to move either after the monthly surgeries surrounding the diagnosis.
"There's a certain point where it gets old to keep hearing that," Sheridan said. "I'm stubborn and super competitive. I took [cancer] as a challenge."
Recently, Sheridan was named to the SUNYAC men's ice hockey All-SUNYAC second team. He finished with a 6-3-2 record, with 2.83 GAA in conference play. He also holds the school record for GAA for both 2007-08 and 2006-07, with a 3.22 and 3.51, respectively.
"I wasn't supposed to be here, let alone play hockey," he said. "With determination and support, you lift spirits, and you can overcome obstacles."