Joe Fischer and his son, Chris Fischer, a member of the Austin Bruins hockey team, tell their story of losing Joe’s wife, Chris’ mom, to cancer at a Paint the Rink Pink, Paint the Town Pink event Tuesday night during the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Business After Hours” at The Hormel Institute. Eric Johnson/

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Always in their hearts

Published 11:15am Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Community opens third-annual Paint the Town Pink by paying tribute to the mother of Bruins forward

A bittersweet kickoff to the third annual Paint the Town Pink event happened Tuesday night as Austin Bruins Forward Chris Fischer and his father, Joe, honored Chris’ mother, Debra, at The Hormel Institute.

The Fischers placed a memorial panel on The Institute’s Donor Recognition Wall in memory of Debra, who passed away last May following a six-year battle with breast cancer.

“If she were here, she would have been extremely honored,” Joe said.

Debra was recognized for the past two years at the Bruins’ Paint the Rink Pink event, where she dropped the ceremonial puck accompanied by Chris each time. The family didn’t know what to expect the first year, but Joe said Debra was amazed at all the support Austin residents gave.

“It blew her away,” he said.

Chris agreed, saying it was always nice to see his mother so happy to help the town raise money for The Hormel Institute.

“It was still special to her,” Chris said.

Joe spoke of the work The Institute has done over the past several years, and the need for Stage 4 breast cancer treatment. He said it was surprising to see The Institute in a smaller town instead of the Twin Cities, something Institute researchers say makes their work that much more important.

“It’s just so unique,” said Dr. Ann Bode, associate director at The Institute.

Members of the Austin Bruins show off the 2013 Paint the Rink Pink jerseys.

Paint the Town Pink will take place Feb. 1-10 this year, with the Bruins’ Paint the Rink Pink game at 7 p.m. Feb. 2 against the Brookings Blizzard.

Joe said he has 36 tickets to the game this year, and friends and family will be in town to celebrate Austin and local residents’ efforts to fund cancer research, and to repay the kindness shown to his wife.

“Austin will always be in our hearts forever,” he said.

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