The month of November, or ‘Movember’ as it’s now commonly known, may be a time where men get to grow out and dye their moustaches throughout the 30 days of the second last month of a calendar year.
But for Pistons defenceman Zac Patrick, Movember is a little more important this time around.
Patrick is currently in his first year with the Pistons after spending the majority of his career in the Western Hockey League with the Kootenay ICE. The 19-year-old d-man from Winnipeg currently has had a solid start to the 2020-21 season with a goal and an assist through eight games. And there’s been extra motivation for him knowing that he has a couple of special people watching every game back at home.
Patrick’s grandparents, Jim and Ruby, make sure that if they can’t make it out to games, which they haven’t been able to this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that they watch every single game of his on HockeyTV.
“(They’ve) been one of, if not the biggest supporters of me in hockey and in life,” Zac said. “From the start of my hockey all the way until now they always find a way to make the game or watching it on TV, and (Jim) was always there to drive me to practices or games if I ever needed it.
“Over the past couple of years with playing junior hockey away from home, he’s travelled across provinces to come watch me play,” he continued. “He always makes sure that he tells me how proud of me he is to see me play.”
But things began to change for the Patrick family this past July, when Jim was diagnosed with stomach cancer that has now spread.
“He’s just been staying at home on the couch for most of the day, as he’s been gradually getting weaker over the past month,” Zac explained. “He’s been a role model for me in my life because he’s always been such a kind, happy man who’s always smiling and never fails to put a smile on other’s faces, and making sure everyone is happy and enjoying themselves. Even now when he isn’t doing well, he’s always doing that.”
When the team kickstarted their Movember campaign last week, Patrick was one of the first in the dressing room to quickly jump on board. Movember is a cause around the world that raises awareness about men’s health issues, such as cancer, mental health, and even suicide awareness as well.
Patrick says it means the world to him and his family knowing that the Pistons and his teammates are fighting this sickness. “Especially now being away from home and with COVID, at times I feel helpless in the way that I can’t be with him other than on FaceTime. It does take a toll not knowing what to do or how to help, but with knowing the whole organization is doing their part to raise awareness and money for cancer, I’m really appreciative and proud to be a part of the difference.”
The Pistons have currently raised just over $3,500 after starting to collect donations last week Tuesday. Three brand-new special edition Movember jerseys, designed by local graphic and jersey guru Tyson Kehler at Fifth Corner Graphic Design, have been created. The largest donor to the team’s Movember page, one random donor, and the Piston player who has raised the most will get the opportunity to take these sweaters home at the end of the month.
But even in spite of that, Patrick urges those who are looking to donate, or may be unsure, that every little bit helps those who are battling cancer, including his grandpa. “Helping to fund research into cancer is invaluable to families who have been and are being affected by it,” he explained. “Like I said before, it’s a very heart wrenching feeling watching a family member have to go through this and I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to go through this.
“By raising money for this cause, you are helping the cause of preventing more families from having to go through this experience, and you would be making a difference. No matter the amount.”
Click the link below to donate to the Pistons Movember page, and help families like the Patrick family in the fight against cancer and men’s health issues.